Hospitals pushing to acquire skilled nursing facilities may be on a solid path to success under new payment models.
That’s according to a recent analysis out of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, published in the journal Health Care Management Review. Researchers note that hospitals are increasingly moving toward ownership of post-acute providers in a bid to control the total cost of care, and that seems to be paying off.
Experts estimate that about 80% of hospitals owned some sort of PAC provider in 2015, according to data from the American Hospital Association’s annual survey and other sources. Ownership of skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies was associated with a lower tally for patients’ entire episode of treatment.
Owning inpatient rehab facilities, meanwhile, was associated with higher episodic are costs, and the effects of hospital ownership were not different for those participating in a voluntary bundled payment program.
About 33% of hospitals owned a SNF out of the more than 2,000 in the sample. Another 58% owned a home health agency and 54% owned a inpatient rehab facility.
Study author Nathan Carroll, Ph.D., said further research could explore exactly how hospitals are achieving these cost reductions, whether through better care coordination or putting new systems in place.
“Better understanding what’s driving the associations we’ve found between ownership and the cost of care could help all hospitals and SNFs develop better processes,” said Carroll, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Services Administration at UAB.