Post-acute care has long been a fragmented sector of healthcare. In a recent report, a physician executive referred to it as “an archipelago of little islands.”1
But the disconnect between post-acute care and other care providers is becoming less distinct. Payer requirements and the trend toward shared risk payment models are driving health systems and hospitals to narrow their preferred partners lists and forge referral relationships with organizations that can help them save money, reduce potential penalties and improve patient outcomes whenever possible.
To get on — and stay on — that preferred list, post-acute organizations must be able to prove the value of their services, which requires that your technology is up to the task. Here are three areas to explore as you prepare to forge strong working relationships with hospitals and health systems.
1. Evaluate your current technology.
Many of the technology components you need are already in place, such as electronic health records for patient health data management and billing services. EHRs are the core operating systems that provide insight into the provisioning care, documenting services and billing payers. But you may not be using all the clinical and reporting features your system offers or there may be add-on solutions that can augment existing functionality.
Contact your vendors to request a “health check” for your EHR. They’ll analyze how you’re using clinical features, and capturing and reporting data. There may be existing functionality that was not applied at implementation. They can also recommend specific upgrades and integrated solutions that will increase the usability and benefits.
Finally, your vendor can recommend or provide training to standardize usage and make the most of your current technology.
2. Be sure you’re connected.
Being a preferred partner begins with the EHR as the base foundation, but you also must create avenues for documentation exchange, which opens dialogue with your agency and any provider. This means sharing information on-demand and providing access to clinical data when systems are part of a larger network. To achieve this, you must have a connectivity strategy that includes a robust integration platform to promote safe and secure exchange of data. Such interoperability efforts, ultimately, will create a broader care community that can bend the cost curve.
Connectivity also supports automating the electronic referral process from acute to post-acute care during the patient transfer. Automating and managing referrals, admission and care transition monitoring — and being able to analyze the data and what it might cost the agency – means each patient is more likely placed in the most appropriate manner, you are always available to your referrers and you are able to help health systems improve their care coordination plans.
2. Develop key performance indicators to monitor performance.
Analytics provide the ability to manage data top down and examine reporting outcomes. The goal is to have intelligent insights that are easily accessible and demonstrate the value of the services you provide. Additionally, KPIs can also provide actionable data on your organization’s performance in specific areas, allowing managers to take remedial action before any deficiencies can have a significant impact on care and services.
There are multiple actors that contribute to forging closer working relationships between your organization and referring hospitals and health systems. But it’s safe to say that your first steps should include evaluating your EHR and other solutions, then developing the right technology strategies that will. By doing so, you’ll not only be able to build a strong connection, you’ll have the data to prove value and continually improve your operations.
1Deloitte Center for Health Solutions, Viewing post-acute care in a new light: Strategies to drive value.