Positioning Your Organization as the ACO Partner of Choice

Long-Term Care Providers Can Move from Subversive to Dominant Role

accountable care organization
How does your organization stack up as a partner of choice in an ACO model? Time to assess now so you don't break the piggybank later. Getty Images

It is no secret that value based purchasing is coming to the long-term care environment. Medicare has stated that it intends to move to full value based purchasing for hospitals by 2018. Skilled home health, SNFs and to a lesser extent inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation providers are going to be impacted over time. So how do long-term care providers best position themselves as an ACO partner of choice?

To be successful, long-term care operators cannot operate in a silo. High quality care will best take place working with hospitals in an ACO environment. Only through effective discharge planning and smooth transitions in care can providers hope to get off on the right foot in helping patients avoid readmissions.

But who is in the driver seat? Typically the hospital.

Holly Benthusen and Margaret Kopp of Select Medical Rehabilitation Services offered some tips for providers to better position themselves as a partner in choice during a recent session at the AHCA national conference.

What hospitals want is something you have heard before:
- lower cost as measured by length of stay
- perceived quality of care and outcomes
- low readmission rates
- communication and coordination of care
- ultimately highly satisfied patients and families who spread positive word of mouth.

Home health is the least costly setting but tend to have higher readmission rates.

SNFs have higher costs but lower readmission rates. Bottom line, MedPAC has established a target rate of 8% for readmissions. There is a long way to go.

Here are ways you can start to position yourself as the provider of choice. First, self-assess your clinical abilities and gaps. Understand what relationships you have in place already and those you need to form.

Understand the key data your partners want.

In addition, consider your ability to:
- care for high acuity patients
- accept admissions 24/7
- turn around lab and radiological services
- provide advanced care planning
- provide medication reconciliation
- start discharge planning upon hospital admission
- utilize EMRs
- provide respiratory services.

Once you understand your gaps, map a plan for positioning yourself as the partner of choice. Now it's time to tell your story.

Tell Your Story

To effectively tell your story, you have to effectively develop relationships with hospital partners. Create a liaison position who meets monthly with hospitals and shares pertinent data. Work with ED physicians and nurses to understand what steps you need to take prior to sending someone to the ED. Provide education to hospitals about regulatory updates in SNF so they understand your environment as well as you understand theirs.

Share satisfaction metrics, state survey results, 5 Star status and anything that will show your quality and safety.

The presenters suggested you neatly package pertinent data in an easily digestible and comprehensive manner to include:
- facility key facts
- specialty skilled services
- discharge destination - home or hospital
- data by diagnosis
- cost/length of stay
- resident satisfaction
- rehab outcomes

It is I important that you also understand what is influencing selection of your facility now by patients, families, caregivers and providers. These factors are important in telling your story.

Telling your story (marketing) is increasingly harder in today's crowded marketplace.

In the 90's, yes the 90's, here is basically what you had available to you to tell your story - events, fax, direct mail, telephone, TV, radio, print, display.

Today, you could easily list 50 different mediums that are vying for people's attention. You know what the best one is? The customer, patient, resident, family member. It is their testimonials that drive referrals.

You may think you have little sway in helping spread word of mouth. And while it is true that most of marketing is now out of your hands, you can set the stage for things to happen.

Becoming a provider of choice is not just about having clinical quality and excellent patient experience. To be a contender you also have to be able to effectively tell your story.

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