In communities across America — large and small — local hospitals serve a purpose that goes beyond being a center for on-demand emergency care. Our nation’s healthcare facilities have a legacy and responsibility as leaders and guardians for the health of individuals in the communities they serve.
As such, it is imperative that local hospitals continue to take the lead in community patient care and avoid being relegated to the position of bystander through managed care or government mandate.
In addition to providing quality patient care, hospitals also have a responsibility to remain financially healthy. And in today’s environment of uncertain and changing regulation, government-mandated penalties, and shifting payment models, hospital leaders are being reminded that financial health and quality patient outcomes go hand-in-hand.
Balancing these two responsibilities is an increasingly tough task. Avoidable readmissions are a cost no organization can afford to ignore, and many of America’s best healthcare facilities are struggling to find an effective solution to their patients’ post-acute needs.
For many hospitals and health systems seeking an answer, partnering with an experienced and proven post-acute care provider has been the solution.
In a value-based world, the ability to manage the total cost of care — from admittance, through acute care, to the post-acute environment — is a strategic advantage for sustaining organizational health and getting patients the right care at the right time, obtaining efficient outcome and attracting and retaining the best and brightest of professional caregivers.
But how do executives and hospital leaders find the right partner, and how can they determine competence and compatibility for their needs?
William F. “Bud” Barrow II, the recently retired president and CEO of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, La., developed what he calls his “Four-Way Test” for evaluating prospective post-acute care partners.
“There are many players in the sub-acute space, and a lot of them are not in it for the right reasons,” Mr. Barrow says. “There are many small companies formed not to advance care AND make a profit, but to make a profit and flip the company for even more profit.”
“It’s important to partner with a large capital healthcare provider that has demonstrated long-term commitment to patients, to profitability and to doing the right thing at the right time — every time,” adds Mr. Barrow.
The four “C’s” in Mr. Barrow’s test include:
- Character: Examine the cultural history of the organization and the character of key individuals.
- Competence: Can they demonstrate long-term, systemic success and expertise in their field?
- Capital: Is there a financial model in place that suggests sustainability in a profitable way?
- Creativity: Does the organization demonstrate nimbleness and the ability to rethink and adjust on-the-go based on the uncertainties inherent in healthcare reimbursement and the overall healthcare landscape?
Once a suitable partner is found, Mr. Barrow further identifies three “must-haves” for forming a successful and sustainable joint venture.
- Organization-wide support Support must come from all areas of the organization. Everyone — from board members to medical staff — must understand and support the goal of the enterprise and fully endorse what is a time-consuming process and significant investment.
- A critical eye You must be willing and able to employ a critical eye when viewing your own organization and make a clear and unbiased assessment of what you do well versus what you wish you did well. “Most people are unable to make this critical internal evaluation,” Barrow says. “As a result, they continue to try and do things on their own, often times leading to long-term failure.”
- Assemble the right team The right people must be in place to evaluate various alternatives and possible solutions as you go through the process and fill in the deficit gaps determined in the critical assessment.
Poor evaluation of organizational readiness, Mr. Barrow adds, is one of the most common pitfalls — particularly when it comes to the vital mutual commitment from administration and medical staff.
“There has to be alignment between the business of medicine and the practice of medicine — it’s paramount,” he says. “The prevailing attitude must be that failure is not an option. This is not something where you put your toe in the water, see what happens, and then back out the first time you hit a bump in the road. Everyone must be on board with an all-in focus on clinical networks, evidenced-based best practices, shared accountability and a singular focus on best patient outcomes.”
Nearly two decades ago, LHC Group pioneered a model of post-acute care partnership that has since earned a reputation for enhancing patient outcomes and financial performance in cities and towns across the country. Since then, the company has pursued a mission to build stronger healthcare delivery systems in the communities it serves.
Quality outcomes — for patients and partners — are the driving force behind everything LHC Group does. Quality metrics are now the preferred standard for evaluating post-acute providers, and with more than 60 percent of its home health locations named among the 2016 HomeCare Elite®, and with the highest CMS Star Ratings compared to home health national averages, LHC Group continues to enhance its reputation as one of the top quality home health providers in the country.
“I can think of no other post-acute provider that demonstrates all of the ‘Four C’s’ at the level of LHC Group,” says Mr. Barrow, who formed his first joint-venture partnership with the company in 2007. “Their overwhelming commitment to character, competence and creativity has allowed them to develop the strong capital to deliver on what they promise.”
LHC Group’s record of designing and growing successful post-acute care partnerships throughout the country is the result of years of dedication, tireless work and experience. Their team is accustomed to rising to the challenge of succeeding in the constantly shifting landscape that is the healthcare industry, and they know how to provide value for partners and improved outcomes for their patients.
The conclusion is clear: Choose the right partner. The health of your community and your organization is at stake.