Challenges and Consequences of Reduced Skilled Nursing Facility Lengths of Stay.
ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE:To identify the challenges that reductions in length of stay (LOS) pose for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and their postacute care (PAC) patients. DATA SOURCES/SETTING:Seventy interviews with staff in 25 SNFs in eight U.S. cities, LOS data for patients in those SNFs. STUDY DESIGN:Data were qualitatively analyzed, and key themes were identified. Interview data from SNFs with and without reductions in median risk-adjusted LOS were compared and contrasted. DATA COLLECTION/EXTRACTION METHODS:We conducted 70 semistructured interviews. LOS data were derived from minimum dataset (MDS) admission records available for all patients in all U.S. SNFs from 2012 to 2014. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS:Challenges reported regardless of reductions in LOS included frequent and more complicated re-authorization processes, patients becoming responsible for costs, and discharging patients whom staff felt were unsafe at home. Challenges related to reduced LOS included SNFs being pressured to discharge patients within certain time limits. Some SNFs reported instituting programs and processes for following up with patients after discharge. These programs helped alleviate concerns about patients, but they resulted in nonreimbursable costs for facilities. CONCLUSIONS:The push for shorter LOS has resulted in unexpected challenges and costs for SNFs and possible unintended consequences for PAC patients.
Project description:To examine changes in postacute care (PAC) use during the initial Medicare payment reforms enacted by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.We used claims data from the 5 percent Medicare beneficiary sample in 1996, 1998, and 2000. Linked data from the Denominator file, Provider of Service file, and Area Resource File provided additional patient, hospital, and market-area characteristics.Six disease groups with high PAC use were selected for analysis. We used multinomial logit regression to examine how PAC use differed by year of service, controlling for patient, hospital, and market-area characteristics.There were major changes in PAC use, and a portion of services shifted to settings where reimbursement remained cost-based. During the first reform, the home health agency interim payment system, home health use decreased consistently across disease groups. This decrease was accompanied by increased use in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). Following the implementation of the prospective payment system for SNFs, the use of inpatient rehabilitation facilities increased.The shift in usage among settings occurred in two stages that corresponded to the timing of payment reforms for home health agencies and SNFs. Evidence strongly suggests the substitutability between PAC settings. Financial incentives, in addition to clinical needs and individual preferences, play a major role in PAC use.
Project description:The number of patients discharged to postacute care (PAC) facilities after hospitalization increased by 50% nationally between 1996 and 2010. We sought to describe payors and patients most affected by this trend and to identify diagnoses for which PAC facility care may be substituting for continued hospital care.Retrospective analysis of the National Hospital Discharge Survey from 1996 to 2010.Adult discharges from a national sample of non-Federal hospitals.Adults admitted and discharged to a PAC facility between 1996 and 2010. Our analysis includes 2.99 million sampled discharges, representative of 386 million discharges nationally.Patient demographic and hospitalization characteristics, including length of stay (LOS) and diagnoses treated.More than half (50.7%) of all patients discharged to PAC facilities were 80 years old or older in 2010; 40% of hospitalizations in this age group ended with a PAC stay. Decreases in LOS and increases in PAC facility use were consistent across payors and patient demographics. PAC facilities may be substituting for continued inpatient care for patients with pneumonia, hip fracture, and sepsis as these diagnoses demonstrated the clearest trends of decreasing LOS and increasing discharges to PAC facilities.The rise in discharges to PAC facilities is occurring in all age groups and payors, though the predominant population is the very old Medicare patient, for whom successful rehabilitation may be most unsure. PAC facility care may be increasingly substituted for prolonged hospitalizations for patients with pneumonia, hip fracture, and sepsis.
Project description:A goal of Medicare's bundled payment models is to improve quality and control costs after hospital discharge. Little is known about how participating hospitals are focusing their efforts to achieve these objectives, particularly around the use of skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). To understand hospitals' approaches, we conducted semistructured interviews with an executive or administrator in each of twenty-two hospitals and health systems participating in Medicare's Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement model or its Bundled Payments for Care Improvement initiative for lower extremity joint replacement episodes. We identified two major organizational responses. One principal strategy was to reduce SNF referrals, using risk-stratification tools, patient education, home care supports, and linkages with home health agencies to facilitate discharges to home. Another was to enhance integration with SNFs: fifteen hospitals or health systems in our sample had formed networks of preferred SNFs to exert influence over SNF quality and costs. Common coordination strategies included sharing access to electronic medical records, embedding providers across facilities, hiring dedicated care coordination staff, and creating platforms for data sharing. As hospitals presumably move toward home-based care and more selective SNF referrals, more evidence is needed to understand how these discharge practices affect the quality of care and patient outcomes.
Project description:In this paper we examine empirically the effect of integration on Medicare payment and rehospitalization. We use 2005-2013 data on Medicare beneficiaries receiving post-acute care (PAC) in the U.S. to examine integration between hospitals and the two most common post-acute care settings: skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and home health agencies (HHA), using two measures of integration-formal vertical integration and informal integration representing preferential relationships between providers without formal relationships. Our identification strategy is twofold. First, we use longitudinal models with a fixed effect for each hospital-PAC pair in a market to test how changes in integration impact patient outcomes. Second, we use an instrumental variable approach to account for patient selection into integrated providers. We find that vertical integration between hospitals and SNFs increases Medicare payments and reduces rehospitalization rates. However, vertical integration between hospitals and HHAs has little effect, nor does informal integration between hospitals and either PAC setting.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The Seattle, WA, area was ground zero for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Its initial emergence in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) not only highlighted the vulnerability of its patients and residents, but also the limited clinical support that led to national headlines. Furthermore, the coronavirus pandemic heightened the need for improved collaboration among healthcare organizations and local and state public health. METHODS:The University of Washington Medicine's (UWM's) Post-Acute Care (PAC) Network developed and implemented a three-phase approach within its pre-existing network of SNFs to help slow the spread of the disease, support local area SNFs from becoming overwhelmed when inundated with COVID-19 cases or persons under investigation, and help decrease the burden on area hospitals, clinics, and emergency medical services. RESULTS:Support of local area SNFs consisted of the following phases that were implemented at various times as COVID-19 impacted each facility at different times. Initial Phase: This phase was designed to (1) optimize communication, (2) review infection control practices, and (3) create a centralized process to track and test the target population. Delayed Phase: The goals of the Delayed Phase were to slow the spread of the disease once it is present in the SNF by providing consistent education and reinforcing infection prevention and control practices to all staff. Surge Phase: This phase aimed to prepare facilities in response to an outbreak by deploying a "Drop Team" within 24 hours to the facility to expeditiously test patients and exposed employees, triage symptomatic patients, and coordinate care and supplies with local public health authorities. CONCLUSIONS:The COVID-19 Three-Phase Response Plan provides a standardized model of care that may be implemented by other health systems and SNFs to help prepare and respond to COVID-19. J Am Geriatr Soc 68:1155-1161, 2020.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Health care is believed to be suffered from a "cost disease," in which a heavy reliance on labor limits opportunities for efficiencies stemming from technological improvement. Although recent evidence shows that U.S. hospitals have experienced a positive trend of productivity growth, skilled nursing facilities are relatively "low-tech" compared to hospitals, leading some to worry that productivity at skilled nursing facilities will lag behind the rest of the economy. OBJECTIVE:To assess productivity growth among skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in the treatment of conditions which frequently involve substantial post-acute care after hospital discharge. METHODS:We constructed an analytic file with the records of Medicare beneficiaries that were discharged from acute-care hospitals to SNFs with stroke, hip fracture, or lower extremity joint replacement (LEJR) between 2006 and 2014. We populated each record for 90 days starting at the time of SNF admission, detailing for each day the treatment site and all associated costs. We used ordinary least square regression to estimate growth in SNF productivity, measured by the ratio of "high-quality SNF stays" to total treatment costs. The primary definition of a high-quality stay was a stay that ended with the return of the patient to the community within 90 days after SNF admission. We controlled for patient demographics and comorbidities in the regression analyses. RESULTS:Our sample included 1,076,066 patient stays at 14,394 SNFs with LEJR, 315,546 patient stays at 14,154 SNFs with stroke, and 739,608 patient stays at 14,588 SNFs with hip fracture. SNFs improved their productivity in the treatment of patients with LEJR, stroke, and hip fracture by 1.1%, 2.2%, and 2.0% per year, respectively. That pattern was robust to a number of alternative specifications. Regressions on year dummies showed that the productivity first decreased and then increased, with a lowest point in 2011. Over the study period, quality continued to rise, but dominated by higher costs at first. Costs then started to decrease, driving productivity to grow. CONCLUSION:There has been substantial productivity growth in recent years among SNFs in the U.S. in the treatment of post-acute-care-intensive conditions.
Project description:This paper describes an integrated series of functional, clinical, and discharge post-acute care (PAC) quality indicators (QIs) and an examination of the distribution of the QIs in skilled nursing facilities (SNF) across the US. The indicators use items available in interRAI based assessments including the MDS 3.0 and are designed for use in in-patient post-acute environments that use the assessments.Data Source: MDS 3.0 computerized assessments mandated for all patients admitted to US skilled nursing facilities (SNF) in 2012. In total, 2,380,213 patients were admitted to SNFs for post-acute care. Definition of the QI numerator, denominator and covariate structures were based on MDS assessment items. A regression strategy modeling the "discharge to the community" PAC QI as the dependent variable was used to identify how to bring together a subset of seven candidate PAC QIs for inclusion in a summary scale. Finally, the distributional property of the summary scale (the PAC QI Summary Scale) across all facilities was explored.The risk-adjusted PAC QIs include indicators of improved status, including measures of early, middle, and late-loss functional performance, as well as measures of walking and changed clinical status and an overall summary functional scale. Many but not all patients demonstrated improvement from baseline to follow-up. However, there was substantial inter-state variation in the summary QI scores across the SNFs.The set of PAC QIs consist of five functional, two discharge and eight clinical measures, and one summary scale. All QIs can be derived from multiple interRAI assessment tools, including the MDS 2.0, interRAI-LTCF, MDS 3.0, and the interRAI-PAC-Rehab. These measures are appropriate for wide distribution in and out of the United States, allowing comparison and discussion of practices associated with better outcomes.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:To determine whether degree of implementation of the Interventions to Reduce Acute Care Transfers (INTERACT) program is associated with number of hospitalizations and emergency department (ED) visits of skilled nursing facility (SNF) residents. DESIGN:Secondary analysis from a randomized controlled trial. SETTING:SNFs from across the United States (N=264). PARTICIPANTS:Two hundred of the SNFs from the randomized trial that provided baseline and intervention data on INTERACT use. INTERVENTIONS:During a 12-month period, intervention SNFs received remote training and support for INTERACT implementation; control SNFs did not, although most control facilities were using various components of the INTERACT program before and during the trial on their own. MEASUREMENTS:INTERACT use data were based on monthly self-reports for SNFs randomized to the intervention group and pre- and postintervention surveys for control SNFs. Primary outcomes were rates of all-cause hospitalizations, potentially avoidable hospitalizations (PAHs), ED visits without admission, and 30-day hospital readmissions. RESULTS:The 65 SNFs (32 intervention, 33 control) that reported increases in INTERACT use had reductions in all-cause hospitalizations (0.427 per 1,000 resident-days; 11.2% relative reduction from baseline, p<.001) and PAHs (0.221 per 1,000 resident-days; 18.9% relative reduction, p<.001). The 34 SNFs (12 intervention, 22 control) that reported consistently low or moderate INTERACT use had statistically insignificant changes in hospitalizations and ED visit rates. CONCLUSION:Increased reported use of core INTERACT tools was associated with significantly greater reductions in all-cause hospitalizations and PAHs in both intervention and control SNFs, suggesting that motivation and incentives to reduce hospitalizations were more important than the training and support provided in the trial in improving outcomes. Further research is needed to better understand the most effective strategies to motivate SNFs to implement and sustain quality improvement programs such as INTERACT.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:To synthesize research comparing poststroke health outcomes between patients rehabilitated in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and those in inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) as well as to evaluate relations between facility characteristics and outcomes. DATA SOURCES:PubMed and CINAHL searches spanned January 1, 1998, to October 6, 2016, and encompassed MeSH and free-text keywords for stroke, IRF/SNF, and study outcomes. Searches were restricted to peer-reviewed research in humans published in English. STUDY SELECTION:Observational and experimental studies examining outcomes of adult patients with stroke rehabilitated in an IRF or SNF were eligible. Studies had to provide site of care comparisons and/or analyses incorporating facility-level characteristics and had to report ?1 primary outcome (discharge setting, functional status, readmission, quality of life, all-cause mortality). Unpublished, single-center, descriptive, and non-US studies were excluded. Articles were reviewed by 1 author, and when uncertain, discussion with study coauthors achieved consensus. Fourteen titles (0.3%) were included. DATA EXTRACTION:The types of data, time period, size, design, and primary outcomes were extracted. We also extracted 2 secondary outcomes (length of IRF/SNF stay, cost) when reported by included studies. Effect measures, modeling approaches, methods for confounding adjustment, and potential confounders were extracted. Data were abstracted by 1 author, and the accuracy was verified by a second reviewer. DATA SYNTHESIS:Two studies evaluating community discharge, 1 study evaluating the predicted probability of readmission, and 3 studies evaluating all-cause mortality favored IRFs over SNFs. Functional status comparisons were inconsistent. No studies evaluated quality of life. Two studies confirmed increased costs in the IRF versus SNF setting. Although substantial facility variation was described, few studies characterized sources of variation. CONCLUSIONS:The few studies comparing poststroke outcomes indicated better outcomes (with higher costs) for patients in IRFs versus those in SNFs. Contemporary research on the role of the postacute care setting and its attributes in determining health outcomes should be prioritized to inform reimbursement system reform.
Project description:<h4>Objective</h4>This research aimed to understand the experiences of patients transitioning from hospitals to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) by eliciting views from patients and hospital and skilled nursing facility staff.<h4>Design</h4>We conducted semi-structured interviews with hospital and skilled nursing facility staff and skilled nursing facility patients and their family members in an attempt to understand transitions between hospital and SNF. These interviews focused on all aspects of the discharge planning and nursing facility placement processes including who is involved, how decisions are made, patients' experiences, hospital-SNF communication, and the presence of programs to improve the transition process.<h4>Participants</h4>Participants were 138 staff in 16 hospitals and 25 SNFs in 8 markets across the country, and 98 newly admitted, previously community-dwelling SNF patients and/or their family members in five of those markets.<h4>Approach</h4>Interviews were qualitatively analyzed to identify overarching themes.<h4>Key results</h4>Patients reported they felt rushed in making their SNF decisions, did not feel they were appropriately prepared for the hospital-SNF transition or educated about their post-acute needs, and experienced transitions that felt chaotic, with complications they associated with timing and medications. Hospital and SNF staff expressed similar opinions, stating that transitions were rushed, there were problems with the timing of the discharge, with information transfer and medication reconciliation, and that patients were not appropriately prepared for the transition. Staff at some facilities reported programs designed to address these problems, but the efficacy of these programs is unknown.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Results indicate problematic transitions stemming from insufficient care coordination and failure to appropriately prepare patients and their family members. Previous research suggests that problematic or hurried transitions from hospital to SNF are associated with medication errors and unnecessary rehospitalizations. Interventions to improve transitions from hospital to SNF that include a focus on patients and families are needed.