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2019 Post-Acute Partnership Report

2019 Post-Acute Partnership Report: Opportunities for Post-Acute Partnership: New pressures are forcing hospitals and post-acute care facilities to better work together - will they do it?

Hooper, Lundy & Bookman’s research report, “Opportunities for Post-Acute Partnership,” assesses survey results from hospital and post-acute care (“PAC”) provider executives.  It is an important read for any health care professional who seeks to understand the opportunities, challenges, and solutions around the fast-evolving relationship between these two groups.

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Hospitals and PAC providers are on the precipice of a monumental transformation — one that, for the first time, will force them to work together to treat patients across the entire care continuum.

And yet according to our report, most hospitals and PAC executives say that, while it’s important to work together, they haven’t made concrete plans to do so. For those that have, there remains a divergence of opinion as to the strategies, challenges, and potential relationships between the two groups.

But in 2019 and beyond, coordinating care is imperative if hospitals and PAC facilities want to stay afloat. On the one hand, an aging demographic and changing market forces means the reliance on PAC facilities by hospitals has only gone up: in 2013 alone, nearly 8 million inpatient stays were discharged to such facilities, accounting for over a fifth of all hospital discharges that year. On the other hand, now hospitals aren’t the only ones facing financial risks for readmissions and poor patient outcomes; skilled nursing facilities (“SNF”) and other PAC providers — including in-patient rehab facilities, long-term acute care hospitals, and home health agencies — will also face penalties under new federal regulations and value-based payment models.

In the current landscape — where, for instance, 22.8% of SNF patients end up back in the hospital within 30 days — a lack of coordination could mean the loss of millions, if not billions, for hospitals and PAC providers; not to mention adverse consequences for their patients’ health.

Some of the key findings in our report include:

Agreement that there are potential advantages in partnership: Both hospitals and PAC providers agree that a decrease in readmissions, an ability to improve quality metrics outcomes, a reduction in inpatient length of stay, and an improved patient experience are the key advantages to working together. PAC providers tend to see more benefit in improved patient experience (60% vs. 34%) and decreased readmissions (51% vs. 40%), while hospitals look forward to improving quality metric outcomes (38% vs. 26%) and reducing inpatient length of stay (32% vs. 23%).

Diverse range of opinion on potential partnership structure: Both hospitals and PAC providers agree that potential partnership would be strategically useful, however, there is disagreement on the best way to structure the relationship. Hospitals show a preference for a more formal relationship (which gives them control), while PAC providers are more interested in less structured arrangements like preferred provider networks (which provides a relationship with their referral sources without sacrificing their operational independence).

Disagreement in top challenges for collaboration: While nearly 40% of hospital executives saw both cost and patient care at PAC facilities as the biggest obstacles to working together, PAC providers were more concerned about communication and interoperability challenges (with 49% and 43% of PAC executives choosing those as top challenges, respectively). This is likely best explained based upon several years of hospital readmission penalties levied by CMS and the absence of funding in the PAC sector to develop robust electronic platforms.

For more insights on the evolving relationship between hospitals and PAC providers and to obtain a complimentary copy of the report, please click here

For media assistance, please contact Maura Fisher at 202-580-7714.