Improved Communication with Hospitals Important for Patient Referrals in SNFs

Hospitals are slowly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic with rising patient volumes. Skilled Nursing News reports they are now reaching pre-pandemic levels. Nursing home operators are dependent on hospitals for referrals of new patients. Dr. Ben Zaniello, chief medical officer of PointClickCare, believes that it is necessary for operators to improve relationships with referring hospitals to have sufficient occupancy rates. These hospitals can provide patients who need acute care. He believes hospitals prefer discharging patients to the “best facility possible” and are “on the hook for quality and the cost of the care that occurs in a ‘non-affiliated’ post-acute facility.”

Hospitals are trying to improve patient outcomes by identifying accountable care organizations (ACOS). Nursing operators should be prepared to answer questions related to providing accountable, quality care.

Alongside COVID-19 safety protocols, Lisa Musgrave, vice president of home care administration and post-acute services for Altamonte Springs, Fla-based AdventHealth, believes nursing homes should also be “keeping the patient at the center” while providing care.

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought on additional challenges for nursing operators, potential patients preferred at-home care instead of in-patient services. For those who had skilled nursing needs, the goal was to send them to a high-quality nursing home. Additionally, Musgrave stated nursing homes who were better prepared for a pandemic-like situation were able to “take on high-acuity patients”. In the early stages of the pandemic, hospitals were discharging acute care patients in high volumes to nursing homes due to a shortage of hospital beds. When elective procedures were temporarily suspended, the patients being discharged to nursing homes were either seriously ill or had complicated diagnoses. Nursing homes with isolation rooms became more appealing for hospitals discharging these patients.

The pandemic added additional pressure on nursing home operators as they faced challenges for the patient care they delivered. Zaniello stated “the data that they could provide about that care, and then, ultimately, their protocols for managing not only COVID-19 needs and protection of their residents, but also how they were managing staff” all came under scrutiny.

Musgrave noted “frequent communication and touching base with how each facility is doing and what their capacity is, that helped us get patients to the right setting, so they were able to get the care they needed.”

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