4 Pillars of SNF/Hospital Partnerships

Thursday, March 13th, 2014
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

Maintaining contact with patients long after the 30-day discharge period when the penalty phase ends for hospitals is one of the four pillars of Torrance Memorial Health System’s post-acute network philosophy, says Josh Luke, Ph.D., FACHE, vice president post-acute services at Torrance Memorial Health System and founder of the California Readmission Prevention Collaborative and the National Readmission Prevention. This can be done telephonically or in-person, and is usually conducted by an ambulatory case manager.

The main component of our post-acute network is to go into each of the seven SNFS once a week and meet with them for a half hour at the most, covering four tactics. The first is to review a list of all of the patients that have been sent from the hospital over to the SNF, specifically focussing on which ones are discharging that week.

The second tactic is to discuss their discharge disposition, and see if they’re going to a home health agency, and if so, if it’s one that we own, or another one in the community. We distinguish this so we can do what’s called ambulatory case management of the patient, which means we want to case manage them once they go home. We don’t just want to forget about them. We want to keep an eye on them and check in on them, whether it’s telephonically or in person, making sure that they continue to do well, not just through the end of the 30-day episode after discharging from the hospital when the penalty phase ends for hospitals, but also for their long term well-being.

The third tactic is to encourage each of our patients going home from the hospital and SNF to make an appointment at our post-acute clinic (CCC) with the physician who does medication reconciliation. She asks the patients to bring in all the medications they were on before they went to the hospital and all those they were prescribed at the hospital. They then sit and have a 45 minute conversation, including guidelines on what their medication plans are moving forward, which ones they should be taking, and which ones they shouldn’t, and making sure, with teach back methodology, that the patient has a clear understanding of what is expected from them in terms of consuming medication once they return home later that day. Those appointments normally take place within the last 72 hours.

The fourth tactic is to review what we call the ‘return to emergency room’ log. In the industry the common term is ‘return to acute’. We don’t allow our SNFs to use that term because we feel they’re responsible for the ‘return to the emergency department (ED)’. What we mean by that is we’re challenging our SNFs to say, “Take charge of what you can control. And what you can control is making sure that patient doesn’t leave your SNF unnecessarily.” We’re not here to say, “Did the patient get admitted or not to the hospital?” We’re here to ask the SNFs if they followed the guidelines that several organizations nationwide have provided that help avoid unnecessary transfers out to the hospital.

Excerpted from 5 Best Practice Prevention Protocols for Reducing Readmissions.

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One Response to “4 Pillars of SNF/Hospital Partnerships”

  1. Dear Mr. Luke. I’m truly impressed by your strategy to take care of your discharged patients after the famous 30 days! Just 2 questions to you: how can you make such an approach financial viable? And why is this program only for SNF patients (and not all your discharged patients).