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When a hospital queues an outbound patient up for long-term care (LTC), time is of the essence and risks run high. Due to today’s higher proportion of older (and sicker) adults, hospitals have been dealing with excessive occupancy rates – and since hospitals’ profit machines rely on steady patient turnover – they’re aiming to free up beds ASAP. As an antagonistic force to this sense of urgency, CMS penalizes hospitals for readmissions by capping Medicare reimbursements. So, when a hospital finds a selection of post-acute referrals it can trust, why would it run the risk or waste the time to explore alternative options? It might not. To take this exclusivity trend a step further, payers are striking deals with hospitals in exchange for control over that facility’s selection of discharge options, resulting in narrower networks.

For skilled nursing facilities that rely on hospital referrals to maintain a healthy census, the concept of getting narrowed out sounds ominous. Luckily, it’s still possible for facilities to break through the ranks with a strategic game plan.

Here are four steps for a SNF to stand out in its network:

  1. Be a first responder. Since hospitals are trying to relocate patients as quickly as possible, the SNF that raises its hand first has a clear competitive advantage. Set a new pace by streamlining the care coordination process: replace paper documentation, disparate data sources, and games of phone tag with a centralized, electronic workflow. The faster a SNF’s clinical liaison can complete the pre-admissions process, the more likely the referring hospital will send future residents its way.
  2. Select the right residents. When it comes to filling SNF beds, speed is key – but not if it leads to an ill-fitting census. A single oversight while assessing an outbound patient’s medical profile can jeopardize care plans and result in rehospitalization. SNFs need a quick and effective way to determine if a potential resident is an ideal clinical, social, and financial fit for their facilities. To do so, equip clinical liaisons with a comprehensive, yet simplified, method for conducting an air-tight pre-admissions process. That way they can easily spot patients’ needs for specialized equipment, medication, or services – all of which facilities must have the means to provide prior to admittance. Hospitals know they can rely on the SNFs with a history of meeting residents’ true clinical needs.
  3. Proactively manage referrals. By gathering and tracking trends like referral history per acute facility or physician, SNFs can get a holistic view of their most, and least, active partnerships. This kind of insight helps clinical liaisons spend more time nurturing their symbiotic relationships. It can also help SNFs catch and remediate down trends before a reliable referrer goes AWOL over time. On the flip side, by pinpointing which hospitals have never passed many referrals its way, a SNF is one step closer to uncovering why. 
  4. Prove your value with data. Once a SNF has established a process for efficiently accruing best-fit residents and they’ve reaped an uptick in clinical successes, it’s time to show it off. Today, data and survey results speak louder than anything else to hospitals. If your facility can demonstrate in a dashboard just how reliable of a long-term care option it is, you’ll climb to the top of acute referrers’ preference lists. To make this possible, SNFs need a way to collect and integrate disparate data points. We recommend using a referral pipeline management tool that not only streamlines the care coordination process, but democratizes data and can integrate with any electronic health record (EHR) platform.

Interested in learning more about how technology can prime your care coordination process for the modern era? Check out our Referral Portal, an integrated CRM platform for skilled nursing facilities.