Guest Columns

A chance for post-acute providers to unite

Barbara Gage
Barbara Gage

Health reform has been shifting greater emphasis on hospital and physician accountability, which in turn is generating greater interest in improved communication and coordination across a patient's entire episode of care.

This dynamic has brought a new level of focus and attention to post-acute care (PAC) services, including those provided by nursing facilities, home health agencies, hospices, and specialty providers such as inpatient rehabilitation and long term care hospitals.

Currently, roughly one in five Medicare beneficiaries are hospitalized each year, and the percent being discharged to post-acute care continues to rise.

The cost is rising as well. PAC spending runs the nation's healthcare system approximately $110 billion a year and is responsible for almost three-quarters of the variation in Medicare spending. As a result, hospitals, accountable care organizations, bundled payment conveners and other stakeholders are recognizing that new approaches are needed in managing the PAC continuum — creating a unique opportunity to examine the various PAC payment and delivery models and enact meaningful, cost-effective changes that will ultimately improve the care of PAC patients.

At the Post-Acute Care Center for Research (PACCR), we're attempting to do just that. Launched in June 2014 as an independently licensed subsidiary of naviHealth, a leading PAC management company, PACCR provides a forum for broad-based, multi-stakeholder exchange of ideas by nationally recognized PAC leaders.

Based in Washington, D.C., the center serves as a “go-to” resource for organizations trying to achieve the triple aim of improving population health, improving outcomes, and reducing costs.

While many organizations are “popping up” to offer advice, PACCR is composed of nationally recognized PAC experts, including clinicians, policy experts, economists and researchers. These key opinion leaders bring a wide range of expertise in the areas of payment policy, case-mix measurement, outcome measurement, network analysis, population health management, and a host of other areas. By gathering experts from across the entire continuum around the same table and offering opportunities for collaboration and discussion, PACCR is positioned to serve as an incubator for new ideas, strategies and reforms in the PAC arena.

PAC is an increasingly important part of the healthcare continuum, and our goal ultimately has to be to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients, while utilizing approaches and models that reduce inefficiencies and are cost-effective.

At the Post-Acute Care Center for Research, we are calling on everyone who can help further this mission to take advantage of the resources available. Whether participating through the publication of research, attending a monthly PACCR webinar, or simply scheduling a time to stop by when in D.C., this is the moment for the broader PAC community to get on the “same page” for the very first time.

Barbara Gage, Ph.D., and Kelsey Mellard, M.P.A., are leaders of the Post-Acute Care Center forResearch. Gage has been a fellow at the Brookings Institution and is a former long-time director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' PAC payment policy and quality measurement work. Mellard spent two years at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, among other posts. For more information on the center, visit paccr.org.

Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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