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Challenges in selecting your SNF partners, and what data to measure

With growing attention on post-acute care settings, it is critical to ensure patients receive high-quality care as efficiently as possible. However, there is tremendous variance in quality within the post-acute care end of the continuum, and the transition from acute to post-acute care is a more complex process than simply sending patients to a highly-rated skilled nursing facility. Making sure you have the right partners in place to carry out your post-acute care transitions is critical to your patients’ positive outcomes.

Developing a SNF collaborative, a group of preferred SNF providers to which acute providers send their patients, is critical to ensuring high-quality care for patients post-discharge. Well-selected and measured SNF collaboratives are essential to achieving optimal care coordination through streamlined transitions from the hospital to the SNF, and enhanced communication among the patient’s providers. This partnership should be a two-way street: not only is the SNF sharing data with you, but you’re also sharing data with the SNF.

Understanding which SNFs to partner with – and what data to measure – presents its challenges. Outlined below are four obstacles frequently encountered when forming a SNF collaborative and dealing with quality variance in the industry.

  1. Data collection

Collecting data from SNFs can be time consuming and expensive, particularly when it is a manual process. Further, if the data collected is not well-standardized, it may not be useful for comparing quality amongst the collaborative. Also, data collection puts significant burden on SNFs, who should be focused on caring for patients – not spending hours querying EMR data.

  1. SNF specialization

Even after a health system has identified a post-acute provider that efficiently and effectively cares for its patients, important differences remain in how they perform for clinical cohorts of patients. A health system that can track differences in quality between clinical cohorts will not only send their patients to the best SNFs in the market, but to the best SNFs for patients’ unique needs.

  1. Difference in acuity

The type of patients that SNFs care for can vary greatly from one facility to the next. When comparing simple observed measures between providers, the difference could be due to the quality of care provided, or the acuity of the patients cared for at that SNF. All meaningful measures should be risk-adjusted to account for those differences in acuity, and CarePort has developed a custom network management dashboard to assist providers with these, and other, advanced analytics – contact us to learn more.

  1. Outdated public data

The Five-Star Quality Rating is an important and readily available metric that helps health systems identify and exclude poor performers from their post-acute network. However, the stars program’s data is heavily weighted toward the custodial population cared for by SNFs. This focus on long-stay measures is not as relevant to health systems that are often focused on patients’ short-term stays in SNFs before going home. Also, many measures are based on only Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) claims data, which can lag behind by one year or more.

This is the first post in a two-part series on SNF collaboratives. Stay tuned for the next post on how to define and track partnership quality over time. You can read our full whitepaper on this topic from Tom Martin, Director of Post-Acute Care Analytics, here.

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