10 Questions Nonprofit Hospitals Should Ask When Vetting Post-Acute Care Facilities

As a nonprofit hospital seeks to drive down readmission and mortality rates, it is more important than ever that the organization understands where in the post-acute care continuum it is discharging patients and what kind of medical care patients will receive post-discharge. In the long run, a hospital that sends a patient to a well-run post-acute care facility that understands transitions of care will likely experience far better outcomes for their patients.

With that in mind, a nonprofit hospital should place great emphasis on the following 10 questions when considering where to send its patients:

1. Where is the facility located? When acquiring and/or partnering with a post-acute care facility, a nonprofit hospital can provide quality service from the outset by determining whether the site is located in a setting that is both easy to find and attractive to top professionals.
2. What are the demographics of the patient population within a post-acute care facility? Is it capable of managing patients’ medical conditions, as well as the varying levels of severity and intensity of their experience? An organization should clearly understand what is required of the population it serves and be able to provide such services.
3. What are the current CMS Five-Star Quality Ratings? This evaluation process not only helps patients make well-informed decisions; it also helps a nonprofit healthcare organization determine areas of improvement.
4. How well does the post-acute care facility understand clinical outcomes and transitions of care? Does it audit and publish clinical outcomes, such as readmission and mortality rates? Employing clinicians—particularly in the field of behavioral health—who can work in a transdisciplinary environment can help cement an organization as a quality service provider.
5. How well does the facility interact with hospitals? Are there joint programming or clinical operating committees that meet to discuss transition issues? Foundational success rests on an organization’s understanding of its staff’s talents and areas for improvement.
6. How advanced are the clinical and financial IT systems? Are they seamlessly integrated with the hospital’s systems? By connecting the technological and clinical facets, a hospitals and post-acute care provider can mitigate the risk of medical errors and guarantee all involved parties are up-to-date on a patient’s recent developments.
7. Is the facility able to offer a bundled service with the hospital? If a nonprofit hospital links services to a single payment, it can create a strong, trustworthy rapport with a patient, and establish lines to be held accountable for their treatment of care.
8. What is the status of ancillary facilities, such as transportation and pharmacy? Are the respective ancillary services reflective of the continuum of care approach hospital leaders are promoting? Identifying strengths and weakness allows an assessment as to whether a partnership is a worthwhile investment for its patients.
9. What type of post-acute care provider network is required for a specific population? Is the current post-acute care provider network too narrow? A nonprofit hospital must be forward-thinking in post-acute care offerings so as to not become siloed and less attractive to prospective patients.
10. How skilled is the facility in ensuring the principles of the 4Rs—the right care, at the right place, at the right time, at the right cost—are followed? Not only will a provider who adopts and focuses on this approach increase its demand among patients, but it will also be more focused on better serving the patient’s needs.