Patient care is a particularly hot topic in this era of value-based care. Thanks to new metrics that focus on outcomes and readmission rates, post-acute care facility administrators are scrutinizing their current policies and procedures and implementing new plans to enhance and improve continuity of care. Fortunately, optimizing patient care doesn’t have to be difficult if you take advantage of a few of these strategies.
Improve Care Transitions
It’s often the little details that are overlooked during the transition from an acute care hospital to a post-acute care facility. Details about a patient’s hearing loss aren’t communicated with the post-acute facility staff, who wonder why the patient is uncommunicative and uncooperative. A patient may arrive with a general diet order when swallowing problems or missing teeth make eating difficult. Unfortunately, even the smallest details can have an effect on patient outcomes.
Working with hospitals to improve discharge checklists and questionnaires and requesting discharge papers in advance, even if they aren’t technically required until the patient arrives, can help ease the transition, as can visiting the patient and staff at the hospital before the transition.
The transition from the post-acute care facility to the patient’s home is just as important. Patients probably leave your facility with reams of paper detailing care instructions, medication dosages, and warning signs. Unfortunately, if the patients or their families don’t bother to read the instructions, problems may occur that result in a readmission.
Cullman Regional Medical Center in Alabama solved the problem by sending patients homes with videos of their discharge sessions. After the switch, the facility noticed a 15 percent decrease in readmission rates. Satisfaction rates were up, too. In fact, Cullman’s HCAHPS satisfaction scores increased by 63 percent.
Join a Network
Partnering with local hospitals in preferred provider networks provides a ready source of patients and also decreases the little glitches that can affect care. As a member of the network, you’ll work closely with the acute care hospital to develop protocols and policies to improve care, reduce readmissions, and enhance the transfer process. Obviously, you’ll want to carefully evaluate your metrics before approaching a hospital and make changes needed to make your facility an attractive candidate for membership.
Upgrade Your Electronic Healthcare Record (EHR) Software
In theory, it should be easy to share information with other healthcare providers, no matter what type of EHR software you choose. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. If your software isn’t compatible with that of local hospitals, sharing data will mean printing out the information then faxing it. Because that process is so time-consuming, you may not receive the total record or may not see information that would require an extra click of a mouse, such as test results or consultation notes.
If you’re planning to join a preferred provider network, you may be required to use the same software the hospital uses. Even if your facility opts not to join a network, it will probably make sense to choose an EHR system that the majority of your referrers use.
Optimizing care can help your patients avoid complications and setbacks that will result in rehospitalizations. As local hospitals realize the many benefits of referring their patients to your post-acute care facility, you may also see a healthy boost in your census.