Reducing SNF Readmissions: Clinical Targets, Quality Scorecards Elevate Performance

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

reducing SNF readmissions

Michigan's Tri-County Collaborative holds the line on hospital readmissions from 130 participating SNFs.

Three geographically close Michigan health systems shared more than a concern over escalating readmissions from skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).

As Henry Ford Health System (HFHS), the Detroit Medical Center and St. John's Providence Health System ultimately discovered from Michigan Quality Improvement Organization (MPRO) data in 2013, they also shared about 30 percent of their patient population.

This revelation, combined with the pinch of new hospital readmission penalties from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), prompted the three to set aside competition and siloed strategies and forge a coordinated approach to reducing readmissions from SNFs.

Today, the resulting Tri-County SNF Collaborative operates with a set of clinical and quality targets and metrics created in tandem with more than 130 member SNFs. Tri-County's dozen participation requirements for SNFs range from regular reporting through a dedicated SNF portal to achievement of specified performance metrics.

"We developed collaborative relationships," explained Susan Craft, director of care coordination for the family caregiver program in HFHS's Office of Clinical Quality & Safety. "We wanted to have very open, honest conversations to review issues that were identified and find ways to resolve those."

Ms. Craft shared the roots, framework and results of the SNF collaborative, which launched in the first quarter of 2015, during Reducing SNF Readmissions: Quality Reporting Metrics Drive Improvements, a May 2017 webcast now available for replay.

Once admitted to the collaborative, member SNFs must report on 14 metrics in four key areas: acuity, care transitions, quality and readmissions. In return, SNFs receive a 13-point unblinded quarterly scorecard with metrics on readmissions and patient acceptance response times, among many others.

A multidisciplinary team within Tri-County Collaborative reviews all SNF metrics bi-annually to determine each facility's continued participation.

As for the collaborative's impact since its launch, Henry Ford Health System achieved a nearly 20 percent drop in Medicare SNF readmissions as well as a 28 percent reduction in SNF lengths of stay. The initiative also identified opportunities for improvement, resulting in enhanced outpatient scheduling and nurse-to-nurse handoffs and interventions focused on SNF-specific issues like sepsis, Ms. Craft explained.

Despite these advancements, the collaborative still faces the inherent challenges of competition and transparency, as well as SNFs' hesitancy to adopt value-based practices. "Our SNFs are still entirely dependent on fee for service [payment models]," said Craft. "They haven't been impacted by penalties and value-based purchasing, although that is coming for them next year."

Although not yet referring to participating SNFs as "preferred providers," the collaboratives hopes to one day equip patients with complete data pictures to guide them in SNF selection. Also on Tri-County Collaborative's radar are home care agencies, concluded Ms. Craft.

"We know there needs to be a lot of coordination across all post-acute care settings."

Listen to Susan Craft describe how Michigan's SNF Collaborative set aside competition to improve quality and readmission rates.

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