Hospitals that used a network of preferred skilled nursing facility partners reduced their readmission rates four times faster than hospitals that didn’t, a study in the September issue of Health Affairs showed.

The findings, which drew from Medicare claims, interviews and site visits, showed that hospitals with a preferred network were able to cut their readmission rates from nursing homes by 6.1 percentage points between 2009 and 2013. 

That’s compared to a 1.6 percentage point drop in readmissions to hospitals that did not have a network, the New York and Rhode Island-based researchers wrote.

Changes in readmission rates were not as significant for readmissions from both skilled nursing facilities and patients’ homes, the researches said.

The study’s results found that hospitals that used preferred networks “recognized that care management among patients transitioning to a SNF is just as important as managing patients discharged to home,” due to those patients being sicker or having more complex health needs, the authors wrote.

The hospitals included in the study reported that their preferred networks often reflected existing post-acute relationships and spurred competition among other facilities to improve performance.