How to centralize patient intake and create faster referrals

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Katherine Chambers, CEO & Co-Founder of The Right Place
Katherine Chambers, CEO & Co-Founder of The Right Place

Recent data shows more than eight in 10 nursing home administrators don't electronically exchange information with referring hospitals, doctors or home health agencies. As astounding as these figures may seem in the era of big data and analytics, it's surprisingly consistent with our observations in the market.

For the approximately 40% of patients requiring post-acute care after a hospital stay, the discharge process often requires dozens of phone calls and faxes between case managers and skilled nursing facilities to locate an available bed at a facility that meets the patient's needs. This process is prone to gaps and breakdowns in communication where there is little tolerance for error.

Noting the inefficiencies and care quality issues of a referrals process reliant on phone calls and chasing faxes and emails, Lewisville, TX-based StoneGate Senior Living has been working to expedite referrals with a newly launched Central Intake Center that utilizes Referral and BedBoard management technology from The Right Place. This expedites collaboration and processing of referrals with real-time data on community amenities and bed availability.

Available 24x7, StoneGate's Central Intake Center provides a single point of contact to verify insurance coverage, assess care needs, determine availability at facilities that are a good fit, and quickly respond to referrals from hospitals in a more succinct, organized fashion.

StoneGate Senior Living manages 45 skilled nursing facilities located in Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Most are located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but the senior care and housing company has been growing rapidly and receives referrals from hospitals across the country. With nine new buildings recently acquired or built, StoneGate has been mindfully getting its house in order to ensure its focus remains on patient care.

Centralizing intake and adding technology to collaborate in real time to help place patients with the best-matched facility has been a central part of StoneGate's effort to align its business for smart growth and respond to referrals more efficiently, so as not to hold up discharges for key stakeholders. StoneGate wanted to calibrate its processes and technology to make better, faster referral decisions.

Right now 15 facilities are part of StoneGate's Central Intake Center, with all 45 expected to be added by end of year. StoneGate is also adding a Global Liaison program, a free service to meet with patients prior to discharge to ensure an optimal hospital-to-skilled nursing facility transfer. Combined with The Right Place platform, these services help StoneGate deliver coordinated, seamless care. With a central repository for all referral-related communications, alongside bed availability visible to the team 24/7 and the ability to track metrics, StoneGate can ensure its facilities have everything needed for successful referral processing through to admissions and transfers, plus capture data trends, such as conversion metrics, occupancy, and referral volume by source, payer, and other analytics.

From February 2017 to February 2018, for the 15 facilities currently on central intake, StoneGate saw a 17.2% increase in referrals for patients with Medicare or managed insurance as primary payers. From January 2017 to January 2018, StoneGate noted an 11% increase in referrals from this same group.

Among the advice from StoneGate is that it was critical to develop the right internal processes before launching central intake, said Angela Norris, RN, StoneGate Senior Living Senior Vice President of Business Development.

“Using The Right Place to collaborate and process referrals and match patients to the right community helps us go the extra mile on referrals,” she said. “Before, time and attention to new referrals was limited because we wanted our facilities focused on care. Now, StoneGate can offer the same high service level to potential new patients, and we're capturing more referrals because of it.”

StoneGate has seen other benefits through its participation in the NextGen ACO (Accountable Care Organization) program, which permits a waiver from the Medicare rule requiring beneficiaries to be in the hospital three days before being admitted to a covered skilled nursing facility. StoneGate's Central Intake Center can help identify patients eligible for this benefit, which means less time in the hospital for patients better served by a skilled nursing facility.

The partnership reflects a move toward value-based payments, Norris added.

“If we can decrease a patient's length of stay in the hospital, it can save time and money and help patients move to the next phase of their recovery more quickly,” she said.

Katherine Chambers is the co-founder and CEO of The Right Place.

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