Managing Your Preferred Post-Acute Network
Delivering effective care between acute and post-acute settings doesn’t stop with building out your preferred post-acute network. Providing improved care outcomes for patients, ensuring that they receive care in the proper setting, and avoiding unnecessary hospital admissions requires ongoing management of your post-acute network.
Managing and maintaining a post-acute network requires four continuous actions: standardize, analyze, communicate, and collaborate.
Continuous evaluation and measurement is key to maintaining a high-quality, post-acute care (PAC) network.
Standardize which metrics you care about most–beds available, length of stay, CMS star ratings, or patient satisfaction, for example. Establish consistency in how you will measure these metrics across all facilities. What time frame are you measuring? How will you monitor Medicare days? Do improvements over time factor in to your overall evaluation?
One way to do this is to develop your own measurement system and equip each facility with the tools necessary in order to provide accurate reports. Adventist Health created a proprietary scoring system with various stages of qualification to help build and refine its preferred post-acute network. Making your chief metrics consistent and clear to all providers, whether in your preferred network or not, communicates the standards of excellence you look to provide for your patients. The PAC providers that want to win more referrals will work to meet and exceed them.
Post-acute care significantly impacts patient outcomes, but ultimately, the hospitals are responsible for what happens up to 90 days following an acute event.
Analyze feedback and reports that you get from PAC providers to better understand what’s driving costs and the variations therein. How does sending a patient to your preferred inpatient rehabilitation facility compare with sending them to one of your top SNFs? Does a facility’s length of stay contribute the most to variation, or is it specialized treatment? Do some facilities manage demographics better than others? What are some of the common denominators for hospital readmissions?
Use the insights from your analysis to provide feedback to your facilities and update your roster if necessary.
Preferred post-acute facilities are partners in patient care. Communication is necessary both at the patient and partner level, and works to close the gap between hospitals and PAC facilities.
At the transition of care, it’s important for acute and post-acute providers to not only share patient information, but to also have a conversation about best next steps for moving forward. Knowing patients’ prior care encounters, along with who managed these encounters, is critical in successfully coordinating patient care. With real-time notifications, PatientPing’s bidirectional tool not only facilitates, but also immediately prompts, this coordination of care.
Aside from individual patient coordination, acute and post-acute providers should continuously communicate on ways to improve their partnerships. Schedule quarterly or semi-annual in-person reviews with your preferred facilities to discuss evaluations, check in on facility updates, and collaborate on best practices.
The most important element in successfully managing a post-acute network is continuous collaboration.
Work directly with your partners to further improvements and encourage innovation. This may mean extending your own resources outside of acute care in a variety of ways. Researchers studying the impact of preferred partnerships between acute and post-acute providers discovered that a major factor in reducing readmissions was with the use of SNFists. Hospitals with preferred networks were able to mobilize physicians to visit and treat patients at the PAC facility when necessary, rather than wait for a readmission.
Additionally, you may want to work with your PAC facilities to get involved with bundled payments or joint quality initiatives that help keep you both accountable and set on improvement.
Building and managing a preferred post-acute network is no small feat. Getting on board with establishing a preferred network in the post-acute space will only help you better prepare for the healthcare of tomorrow.
Check out our previous blog on building a preferred post-acute network here.