The Relationship Between Hospitals and SNFs
Hospitals are facing one of the biggest challenges in value-based healthcare: partnering with skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to create an effective system for care transitions that leads to better quality and fewer hospital readmissions within 90 days. For hospitals to function effectively, they must form close collaborations with SNFs. Moreover, hospitals and skilled nursing care facilities are having a harder time keeping up with the aging baby boomer generation. These shifting trends present new opportunities for physicians that could transform the future of health care. What can physicians do to prepare for these changes? Read on as we explain the relationship between hospitals and skilled nursing facilities and how physicians can benefit from this shift.
There is no question that healthcare facilities are facing heavy fines for high readmission rates within 30 days. Patients who are readmitted after a post-acute episode are charged nearly double the average Medicare payment. A total of 2,597 hospitals were penalized by Medicare because of higher-than-expected readmissions in 2016, the most in any year. To achieve optimal patient outcomes during the transition from acute to post-acute care, providers in both environments must work together to prevent adverse events from occurring.
Similarly, the use of accountable care organizations (ACOs) and value-based payments (VBPs) that reward providers for delivering better health outcomes at a lower total cost of care have made substantial gains in post-acute care coordination. An increasing number of ACOs are employing strategies that reduce unnecessary higher-cost facility-based care spending by moving appropriate patients to lower-cost settings. Many ACOs, for instance, have already established preferred skilled nursing facility (SNF) networks, which, among other strategies, provide a comprehensive perspective on transitioning care from the hospital to the SNF.
The Future of Post-Acute Care
The increased demands placed on hospitals by an aging and chronic population will put added pressure on intensive care units, since these patients usually require acute-level care for a long period of time. The next best step in a person's recovery is often discharged to a PAC setting in order to address their continuing needs.
SNFs will need to redesign their model to accept more of these patients with higher acuity that hospitals discharge early. Some of these patients require significant costs to care for them, and the reimbursement the SNF receives may not fully cover these expenses. As a result, maintaining financial viability under the Medicare Part A Payment model may be challenging.
Impact On Providers
A growing demand for quality post-acute care has opened new doors for physicians working in hospitals and more traditional settings. As a result, SNF providers are able to develop stronger relationships with patients, sharpen their skills at the bedside, and spend less time doing administrative tasks. Because of the extensive and often intimate contact they have with their patients, post-acute care providers are uniquely positioned to push the healthcare industry further toward a whole-person approach.
There are a few things physicians can do to prepare for the transition to post-acute care. Many long-term care patients need bedside procedures to address chronic health concerns, such as wound treatment and G tube management. Providers can gain a competitive edge by partnering with an organization like Skilled Wound Care, since this institution specifically trains physicians for the post-acute care setting. Doctors are properly prepared to transition to nursing homes with the help of SWC, which has years of experience transitioning physicians from all backgrounds.
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