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 Get A Seat At The Referral Table

Outcomes, readmission rates, and patient satisfaction scores are key.

 

How Are You Validating Your Value?

 
If you take away one nugget of insight from this article, it should be that objective data open doors. Health care has already evolved into a quality movement. If you want to be perceived as a provider that helps hospitals, health systems, and ACOs to achieve their cost and quality goals, then you’ll want to position your organization as a viable care coordination partner. Period.
 
By the same logic, if you’re not prepared with data that objectively validate what happens to patients after discharge, then you’re unable to prove that your communities and care centers are worth consideration. As hospitals and physicians focus their referral sources, data will make you stand out and provide evidence as to why you should be part of their networks.
 
Hospitals and health systems proactively prescreen providers for quality outcomes. What’s more, if you haven’t heard from the hospital and health systems in your area, you should be concerned.
 
Good clinical outcomes, low readmission rates, and excellent patient experience scores are the main aspects of screening analyses. In fact, hospitals likely know something about your scores already. And whether you know it or not, you’re now competing with post-acute providers in your area. Objective data from an independent source to substantiate your claims will help you gain consideration for patient referrals.

Build Your Referral Resume

What types of data should outline your core competencies and business objectives? How can you differentiate yourselves from providers in your region? It’s simple. Pinpoint an aggregate profile of your resident. List your average length of stay, your patient/resident experience scores, and how you compare with peer groups.
 
If your scores are not among the top, then a plausible alternative could be to show annual trends that your organization has been improving over time. Do you have a discharge call program in place? (Hint: Most hospitals do.) If so, list it in your referral resume.
 
Other tips to illustrate that you’re among the elite in quality measurement would be to list your star ratings from Medicare.gov (available for skilled nursing only) and how they correlate with your recommendation scores in resident and family satisfaction surveys.
 
The main takeaway is to align yourself as closely as possible with the hospitals and health systems in your area. Most importantly, seek to provide resident experience and satisfaction scores for any specific patients that have been discharged to your care center from hospitals that you are seeking to establish referral partnerships with.
 
But that’s not all.

Hospitalization Readmission Rates

Do you know what percentage of your resident census is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of discharge and why? Even if you don’t, it’s likely that your local hospital does.

Hospitals are at risk of losing a percentage of their Medicare reimbursement based on what happens to certain patients (depending on diagnosis) after they are discharged from the hospital, and those penalties will increase over time.
 
More long term care and senior living providers are being asked to produce these data to show how their services can decrease their partner hospital’s risk of lower reimbursement. Can you imagine sitting in a meeting with a discharge planner and having them tell you what your 30-day readmission rate is before you do? It can happen.
 
Data point: Research shows that 90 percent of health care consumers are influenced by overall reputation during the selection process for care providers, completely outperforming traditional influencers such as doctor referrals and insurance acceptance.
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Move-in Patient Experience Scores

Hospitals are not only looking for excellent clinical care, low readmission rates, and high patient experience scores. They are also looking for providers that are easy to work with and can provide a seamless transition of care.
 
You can use your resident move-in survey data to paint a picture of the patient experience during the transition from one care setting to another.
 
Demonstrate your ease of transition by showing how your scores compare with those of your peers in the categories of overall satisfaction and recommendation, as well as “Welcomed by Staff,” “Ease of Move-In,” and “Attention to Needs.” If you are improving in any of these categories, then be sure to include trend data to help communicate your improvement story.

Tally Move-out Resident Experience Scores

When a resident leaves your care setting, it’s equally important to listen to what the survey scores tell you. Present your overall satisfaction and recommendation scores, plus the scores received in areas known to be key drivers of recommendation. These drivers include “Care and Concern of Staff,” “Answering of Call Lights,” and “Quality of Care.”
 
Many hospitals are not aware of what happens after discharge from a community or care center. Communicate with your hospital about what type of care you provide—do you focus on short-stay or long-stay? And let the hospital know of any data-driven findings that are leading you to focus on specific areas for improvement. They’ll appreciate knowing that you are not just throwing darts at the wall.

Data Open Doors And Bbuild Bridges

If you show up to a strategic partnership meeting with a comprehensive set of data points to dazzle hospital discharge planners, you’ll be considered a serious partner that has their interests in mind. If hospitals are paying attention to their own data to help address readmission rates, value-based payment, changes to care delivery models, and other factors related to cost and quality, you, too, must be able to talk numbers, percentiles, and trends.
 
Providing objective data points should be the first thing you think about when preparing to woo potential referral partners. If you can effectively demonstrate your data, discuss why it matters to their patients, and validate that you are dedicated to continuous quality improvement—you will be taken more seriously and can differentiate your organization from others in your region.
 
Jason Stevens is Vice President of Post-Acute Programs for National Research Corporation. He oversees sales and strategic thought leadership efforts for the company’s post-acute products and services, including My InnerView by National Research. He is located out of the company’s headquarters in Lincoln, Neb. National Research Corporation is the leading experience and quality measurement firm in the United States, specializing in evidence-based insights that empower customer-centric health care across the continuum.
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