Turning a challenge into an opportunity

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John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News

Many nursing home administrators are not sleeping well these days. If it's any consolation, hospital administrators are probably catching even fewer winks.

According to the American Hospital Association, there are currently 5,754 registered hospitals in the United States. They house 942,000 beds. But unlike eldercare operators, many hospitals are not eagerly anticipating a demographic shift that will give them more business than ever seemed possible.  

In fact, some analysts predict that one in three hospitals will close or reorganize into an entirely different type of healthcare service provider by 2020.

If that's not challenge enough, hospitals may soon be looking at Medicare payment reductions as well. The new health reform law is pretty clear in its message to hospitals here: Cut down on readmissions or you'll be taking a pay cut.

According to new data published on Medicare's Hospital Compare website, hospital readmission rates for pneumonia grew 0.1% to 18.5% of all Medicare pneumonia patients between 2010 and 2011. Starting in October, hospitals will face penalties for readmissions for patients with such conditions.

So what does this mean to skilled care operators? As Ben Franklin famously quipped, a friend in need is a friend indeed. If you can help hospitals avoid possible pneumonia-related payment cuts, you'll be more than a subcontractor: You'll be a trusted business partner.

Your job now is to show hospitals within driving distance how you can help them prevent patients from boomeranging back. Of course, you'll need to actually prove that this will happen. That's where competence and data will come in. You'll certainly need to have both in ample supply.

Reaching out to hospitals may not be the easiest strategic move you'll ever make. But it could be the key to survival for many hospitals. And perhaps for your facility as well.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.