Partnerships Are Growing Across the Care Continuum

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post is the next in a series excerpting our HealthStream article, Five Factors Changing the Delivery of Care Across the Healthcare Continuum.

Not so long ago, hospitals built relationships with nursing homes to achieve inpatient growth objectives. The hospital business development staff regularly called on nursing home administrators and medical directors in pursuit of becoming the hospital of choice for their residents. All of this was done in the name of growing inpatient volume. How times have changed! Today, these relationships are more important than ever, but for very different reasons. The entire care continuum, from home health to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), plays a critical role in controlling healthcare costs and avoiding hospital admissions.

This healthcare continuum includes rehabilitation or palliative services that a patient receives after, or in some cases instead of, a stay in an acute care hospital. Non-hospital services are provided in a variety of settings, including skilled nursing, inpatient rehabilitation, long-term acute care, hospice, senior care housing, non-medical home care, adult day care, assisted living, continuing care retirement communities, and home health.

The demand for senior living continues to rise as the senior population grows at substantial rates. By 2020, the United States Census Bureau projects a population of 56 million seniors, with 74 million by 2030. Seniors become eligible for Medicare at a rate of 10,000 per day.

Strategic Care Continuum Partnerships Make More Sense than Ever

With greater focus on patient-centered care and the need for coordination of care across providers and settings, the industry is seeing more strategic partnerships among hospitals, post-hospital care providers, and ACOs. As providers align, they are creating networks that can coordinate care and address needs along the entire continuum.

A 2017 Price Waterhouse Coopers study found that long-term care transactions accounted for 75 of the 219 healthcare deals executed by the end of the second quarter of 2017, some exceeding $1 billion. These “megadeals” drive up values even more. Mergers and acquisitions will result in more narrow networks and growing clinical integration among hospitals, physicians, and paraprofessionals. Unique payer relationships will also develop. These may include hospital payment for SNF stays and bed-leasing models to facilitate the timely discharge of hard-to-place patients to care facilities beyond the hospital walls.

In Becker’s Healthcare Review, consulting firm Health Dimensions Group predicts, “As the march towards value-based payment continues, provider partnerships are increasingly recognized as a cornerstone to success. For hospitals and health systems that do not have a full continuum of care services, formalized partnerships will continue to develop.”

Access the full article here.