Collaboration is the Key to Success for Long Term Care Facilities
Despite government threats of financial penalties, hospitals have made little headway in improving rates of preventable readmissions, according to recent Medicare data. More than 20% of Medicare patients return to the hospital within a month of discharge and despite policy efforts to reduce readmission rates, they remain unchanged.
The Medicare data points to an opportunity for post-acute care providers, as it shows that hospitals have been unable to address the readmission rate issue in isolation.
On a national level, hospitals discharged almost 40% of AMI, heart failure and pneumonia Medicare FFS patients to post-acute care settings. Skilled nursing facilities received 50% of referrals after initial discharge, followed by home care agencies (43%), inpatient rehabilitation facilities (4%), and long-term acute-care hospitals (3%). These post-acute care facilities hold the key to reducing readmission – the Age Of Collaboration is here.
Ensuring the quality of care for the 40% of patients already earmarked for post-acute care is part of the equation. Facilities that are able to provide data to show positive outcomes will become valuable resources for hospitals looking to improve their readmission rates. But this is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. The 60% of patients discharged with no follow-up represent a significant opportunity for the post-acute care provider who has the processes and data in place to prove reductions in readmission due to their involvement in the continuum of care.
Post-acute care providers must vigilantly communicate to ensure they are included in strategic discussions with hospitals and must be fully cognizant of their own readmission rates and have a cogent plan to reduce them over time.
Serious investment in staff training, establishment of creative protocols, and systems for capturing the appropriate data all need to be implemented in order for nursing homes and other post-acute care facilities to prove their value to hospital administrators seeking to resolve this potentially pricey problem. Partnership with hospitals is absolutely the lifeblood of the equation.
Facilities who neglect to develop the programs to support their inclusion in hospital plans to address the readmission issue do so at the risk of missing out on an enormous opportunity to both improve quality of patient care and their own bottom line.