Nationwide Health Care Responding to Transformation of Skilled Nursing Industry in the Era of the Affordable Care Act

nationwide-rehabAs the Affordable Care Act is implemented across the American health care system, it is prompting a major restructuring in the landscape of skilled nursing care.

As part of a Medicare pilot program, many hospitals are now partnering with skilled nursing facilities to implement a new reimbursement system based on what are known as “bundled payments.”

In the traditional reimbursement model, hospitals pay skilled nursing providers on a fee-for-service basis – meaning that each part of a patient’s stay is billed as a separate line item.

Under the new bundled model, nursing facilities are paid a flat per-patient fee. The hope is that this new approach will encourage health care efficiencies, slow the growth in health care spending and improve patient outcomes.

While this approach holds out the promise of shorter hospital and nursing facility stays, it also signifies a fundamental restructuring of the skilled nursing industry. Hospitals are now limiting their patient referrals to facilities with which they have these bundled arrangements.

To stay relevant in this changing landscape, Nationwide Health Care is renewing its outreach efforts to patients and families, in addition to working with hospitals to finalize new bundling agreements.

“Skilled nursing providers, like Nationwide Health Care, need to stand out as providers of care with exceptional customer service so that patients know to specifically request a referral to us from their hospital during the discharge process,” said Meg Judson, M.H.A., a consultant who is working with Nationwide’s six facilities on transforming their outreach efforts to potential patients. “Word of mouth is the best referral. Facilities will need to train all team members how to market their building and provide customers and family members with an extraordinary experience during their recovery.”

Nationwide, she added, is also creating an inviting and welcoming environment at its facilities and is investing in cutting-edge equipment and superior services that will promote the rapid recovery envisioned in this new health care model.

A wonderful example of this transformation is taking place at the Brookside Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Abington, PA,  which has undergone a nearly $2 million upgrade to its rehabilitation facilities. Brookside is also one of the first facilities in the region to utilize the revolutionary ZeroG Gait and Balance Training System, a robotic body-weight support system that uses advanced technology to precisely track patients as they undergo physical therapy.

The system, which is mounted on an overhead track, prevents falls and assists in physical therapy by providing a specifically calibrated amount of dynamic body-weight support to allow patients to perform balancing exercises. This allows patients to undertake accelerated therapy and ultimately should deliver better results while in a rehabilitation program.

“Nationwide is embracing this transformation in the health care market because they are investing in services to improve outcomes and provide a superior patient experience,” Judson said.