Long-term care facilities that coordinate with other healthcare providers play a vital role in reducing rehospitalizations among Medicare beneficiaries, according to a study published January 23 in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The report – “Association Between Quality Improvement for Care Transitions in Communities and Rehospitalizations Among Medicare Beneficiaries” – comes as no surprise to LTC providers, who have been increasingly pushed to partner with their acute care cohorts. Researchers funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) studied 14 communities where hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and other providers collaborated to reduce rehospitalizations by improving care transitions. The healthcare organizations worked with CMS-contracted Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs), which advised on healthcare best practices during the 2009-2010 study period.

The 14 communities saw a 5.7% mean reduction in readmissions within 30 days of discharge per 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries. This was more than double the 2.05% mean reduction in communities where care providers were not working with QIOs to lower readmissions.

In 10 of the 14 targeted communities, nursing homes implemented the Interventions to Reduce Acute Care Transfers (INTERACT) model, according to researchers. INTERACT includes tools such as checklists of information that should be shared when a long-term care resident goes to or returns from a hospital.

Reducing rehospitalization rates is a pressing fiscal as well as patient care issue: Hospitals with excess readmissions, as defined by the Affordable Care Act, face Medicare payment penalties.