Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, many patients who would normally go to SNFs for rehabilitation and recovery following their hospital stay are now instead opting for home health. As we’ve shared previously, discharges to the home health setting grew significantly in 2020; as of March 2021, home health comprised approximately 60% of referrals while SNF referrals lagged at 40%, and SNFs have yet to fully recover. Though referrals to SNFs had reached 91% of the 2019 baseline by March 2021, referrals to home health soared to 116% for the same time frame.
SNFs: securing critically needed referrals
CarePort data has shown that at 71% nationwide, SNF occupancy rates were at an all-time low in January 2021. Several SNFs – 114 in 2020 alone – have had to shut their doors, and additional closures are expected as provider relief funds dry up. As SNFs continue to battle decreased referrals and patients continue to opt for home health – resulting in census challenges and risking facility closures – it’s essential that they secure placement for the referrals they do receive.
Using CarePort Referral Management to facilitate faster referral responses, SNFs can expect to see a 67% increase in new referral volume. Not only does Referral Management streamline the referral process, but it also increases SNF visibility to referral sources in the CarePort database to increase census and achieve better patient outcomes – beneficial for those SNFs who have struggled since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leveraging Referral Management, SNFs can also monitor the effectiveness of their marketing activities to enhance market presence and adapt to industry needs.
Home health: efficiently managing surges in referrals
The shift to home-based care has been accelerated by the pandemic and hospital-at-home programs. It’s also less costly – and often preferred by the patient – to recover at home. As home health referrals continue to surge, home health providers have more opportunity to place patients under their care – but they must be able to do so in a timely and efficient manner to secure the referral.
Using Referral Management to facilitate faster referral responses, home health agencies can expect to see a 17% increase in new referral volume. Referral Management streamlines the referral process for home health providers, allowing them to automatically transfer each patient’s demographic, financial, and clinical data into their clinical and financial systems – saving time and reducing errors for home health providers experiencing unforeseen demand.
The critical importance of post-acute referral response time
As SNFs try to overcome occupancy challenges and home health providers face unprecedented competition for referrals, it’s critical that these providers – for entirely different reasons – have the necessary tools in place to respond quickly and efficiently to referrals. CarePort analysis shows that nearly half of placed patients go to the post-acute provider that responds within 15 minutes of an acute referral.
Through Referral Management, post-acute providers are alerted in real time of incoming referrals on their computer or mobile device to streamline and expedite the referral process while also avoiding inefficient phone calls and faxes. Additionally, post-acute providers can automatically receive and respond to referrals from hospitals, as well as post-acute providers and community partners, in a single electronic system in a matter of minutes – helping to transform workflows and patient outcomes.