Care Transformation Center Blog

So you have a post-acute network—now what?

by Carolyn Buys and Monica Westhead

Efficiency across an episode of care is critical to success under value-based payment models. To manage post-acute outcomes under these programs, many hospitals have convened preferred networks of high-quality post-acute providers.

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In fact, a 2017 Post-Acute Care Collaborative survey found 88% of hospital systems had or had plans to build a preferred provider network. But since then, providers have told us they're not always realizing the full benefits they had expected when building the network. 

That's why we launched a survey this week to learn more about what hospitals are actually doing with their preferred networks, and how they drive outcomes from those partnerships. To better understand the shortcomings of the average network, let's look at an example from Tea Tree Hospital.

Tea Tree Hospital builds preferred networkto mixed results

Tea Tree Hospital, a pseudonymed organization, launched its preferred network in 2015. Tea Tree promotes its preferred providers on its website, and has collaborated with them to implement care coordination and disease-specific care protocols.

But after three years, network results have been inconsistent, at best.

  • Despite shared care pathways, Tea Tree sees no significant change in readmission rates

  • Network has, however, reduced SNF length of stay

Even with investments in quality improvement with network partners, Tea Tree is seeing only a minimal impact on readmission rates, one of the main metrics by which providers measure network success. It’s a story we've heard too many times. Providers invest in these joint efforts, yet they don’t see a return on their investment.

How to derive maximum value from a preferred provider network

There are countless initiatives hospitals can implement to improve network performance—from joint staffing models to shared care protocols. But given limited resources, which ones will give providers the biggest bang for their buck?

The Post-Acute Care Collaborative has studied how to best drive network success for years, but now we want to hear from you. What are you working on with your networks, and what has and hasn't worked for you? Take our survey to ensure your system’s perspective is included in our data collection initiative.

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