Close, specific hospital-SNF partnerships drive down readmission rates, researchers find

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A strong relationship between a hospital and a skilled nursing facility reduces the readmission rate among patients discharged to that particular SNF, according to recently published research.

A research team from Brown University, Harvard Medical School and other institutions looked at Medicare and Minimum Data Set information for 2.8 million patients newly discharged to SNFs between 2004 and 2006. If the proportion of discharges from one hospital to a particular SNF was to increase by 10 percentage points, this corresponded with a 1.2 percentage point decline in the likelihood of a readmission within 30 days, the researchers found.

The close partnership between a hospital and a SNF had the greatest effect on reducing readmissions within a week of hospital discharge, according to the findings.

These findings support the trend of greater coordination across the continuum of care, which has gained momentum under Affordable Care Act provisions such as financial penalties for hospitals based on readmissions benchmarks. Hospitals seeking to limit their risk of being fined likely will “steer their patients preferentially to fewer SNFs,” the researchers wrote.

The findings appear in Health Services Research.