We’ve all heard the saying that necessity is the mother of invention. This could not be truer than in the case of post-acute care over the past few years.
During Forcura’s 2022 Connect Summit in January, we were privileged to hear from more than 30 experts in healthcare who gathered to address a primary theme: Are post-acute care providers ready to compete in a value-based care economy? This seismic shift in Medicare funding, to be officially implemented for all home healthcare providers in 2023, had already set the stage for providers to develop greater efficiencies and smoother care transitions. However, no one saw a pandemic coming and the numerous effects it would have – and is still having – on care delivery in the sector.
If there was one concern that resonated most during the Summit, it was regarding the current national shortage of skilled clinicians and the obstacle it poses to establishing value-based care goals. After all, preparing for new methods of care and payment is challenging enough for many agencies whose profit margins are razor thin and who aren’t getting the benefit of federal incentive dollars. Add to that an even smaller workforce, and many providers are now preoccupied with the struggles of day-to-day operations, let alone the technology acquisitions and process developments needed to deliver more effective, high-quality care to their patients.
This is where our panelists demonstrated that the pandemic and the resulting staffing crisis, just like the value-based care model, are agents for change – positive change – and that the right kind of approach will address both issues simultaneously and result in stronger businesses and better patient care overall.
This approach involves two equal but sequential initiatives: first, implementing technology and second, fostering relationships. If you have the right kind of technology that streamlines your care coordination processes through automation, workflow management, mobile communication, and analytics, you can transform your business and staff capabilities. This makes the most of the staff you have and gives them the tools they need to be more satisfied.
“I think the opportunity for technology to create significant efficiencies and improvement across the board is here,” said Bruce Greenstein, executive vice president and chief strategy and innovation officer of LHC Group, during the event’s final roundtable discussion. “[We need to use] technology to scale up nursing and [offset] the labor shortage, to give people a higher level of productivity while working the same number of hours, and to help improve performance for a value-based purchasing program beginning in 2023.”
As for partnerships, they have been an important aspect of value-based care from the beginning because they help drive a more connected, patient-centered – or interoperable – health ecosystem. They are now even more essential because they enable members to pool resources in pursuit of seamless care transitions, cost reductions, and the kind of patient outcomes that result in higher payer reimbursements.
"If you want to manage patients with multiple co-morbidities and improve their outcomes ... you must have multiple stakeholders engaged. You can't do that without interoperability," said Nick Knowlton, vice president of strategic initiatives at ResMed, during a panel that focused on the subject.
Partnerships can really help a short-staffed agency trying to make headway on its own, but they require a certain amount of sophistication from the onset; in other words, you must have your own house in order, to bring value to such an arrangement – thus, we return to the value of technology first in your day-to-day operations.
Looking at both the immediate issue and the expectations post-acute care will be dealing with next year and beyond, it is clear from the success stories and advice our panelists shared that moving ahead with this strategy will put you on the best path toward success. Watching the session recordings, you will see examples of payers, providers, tech vendors, and community services coming together to benefit from a shared goal – to provide the highest value for the best patient care possible.
While I can’t say whether these best practices would have occurred on their own without the events of the past few years, I believe they have provided a powerful impetus to evolve, a clearer roadmap to use for the journey, and the means to accelerate improvement that’s been needed in healthcare for much too long already.
Craig Mandeville is the Founder and fearless leader of Forcura. Craig founded the company in 2012 after witnessing first-hand how much of an impact digital management of medical records and secure communication could have on improving patient care. Craig's vision is to lead the change in post-acute care towards true interoperability, reducing redundancy of documentation throughout the continuum of patient care