Collaboration and communication important for ACO partnerships, LINK panel says

Long-term care providers must have a collaborative mindset if they want to join an accountable care organization, according to a panel of experts at the LINK LTC & Senior Living Conference.

During the session “Post Acute Winners & Loser: ACOs and MCOs Speak the Truth,” top executives from the payer organizations discussed ideal characteristics of ACO partners. Following some Pioneer ACO organizations dropping out of the program last week, some providers have renewed their criticisms, but others in long-term care say collaborative organizations with bundled payments are the future.

One asset for ACO success is having a location near the acute care provider. Another is the ability for long-term care leaders to collaborate and open up lines of communication, LINK experts said.

For example, when a facility makes upgrades or renovates, make sure the clinical leaders know, said Nancy Grant, director of national contracting at Humana.

Providers should directly communicate with their ACO partners to avoid repeat care and to make the resident’s experience better. This can be especially important with issues such as medication, for instance, a resident being discharged with multiple prescriptions.

“The last thing we want is to confuse the patient with numerous phone calls or for them to go home and not understand their meds,” Grant said.

ACOs partnerships require a change in culture in order to be successful, said Kara Plaks, director of outcome partnerships at Signature Healthcare.

To avoid readmittance, for example, a nurse should look at what could have been done differently, Plaks said. The nurse should look into the past 72 hours, not just the hours leading up to the emergency room visit, she said.