Post-acute care: Where do you stand?

Friday, October 10, 2014

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – As the paradigm in health care shifts, Managed Health Care Associates (MHA), the parent company of The MED Group, wants to make sure its post-acute care provider members, including those in HME, are armed with the information they need to make the right business decisions.

That’s one reason why MHA teamed up with Leavitt Partners this month to publish an 11-page report, “The Right Care for the Right Cost: Post-Acute Care and the Triple Aim,” that discusses: What does post-acute care entail; why do accountable care organizations (ACOs) need to consider partnerships with post-acute care providers; and how do these partnerships fit into evolving healthcare models?

“We wanted to get everyone talking,” said Michelle Templin, vice president of strategic business development for MHA. “For post-acute providers, we wanted them to look to see where they stand in the spectrum.”

Starting from square one

Initially, there was little knowledge—let alone recognition— among ACOs of the role of post-acute providers, Templin says.

“When we started meeting with hospitals, they had no idea,” she said. “So we had to step back and do some education.”

ACOs are quickly trying to get up to speed, though, Templin says.

“They’re starting to look at readmissions and they’re realizing that these are frail and elderly patients,” she said. “They’re realizing there’s an opportunity for coordinated care and delivery.”

Flexing your muscles

No ACO is created equally, especially at this still early phase, so as post-acute care providers look to see what role they can play in this new paradigm, they need to be flexible, Templin says.

“You could have five ACOs within a marketplace, and the processes and protocols for dealing with each of them is different,” she said. “It’s not cookie cutter. I hear from customers, ‘This ACO wants this, and that ACO wants that.’ There’s no way around it. They need to do an assessment of where their market sits right now and an assessment of what they can do.”

HITting it hard

With health information technology (HIT) one of the primary drivers behind successful ACOs, post-acute care providers will want to make sure they can talk their language, Templin says.

“IT is the biggest barrier,” she said. “Post-acute care is such a fragmented industry—you have people writing things down, you have some pretty fancy systems, and you have everything in between. The data that’s required continues to be a challenge. This is a big focus for us. Can we provide tools to link them in without it being a huge investment?”