ACO-Affiliated Hospitals Reduced Rehospitalizations From Skilled Nursing Facilities Faster Than Other Hospitals
Author: Ulrika Winblad, Vincent Mor, John P. McHugh, Momotazur Rahman
Medicare’s more than 420 accountable care organizations (ACOs) provide care for a considerable percentage of the elderly in the United States. One goal of ACOs is to improve care coordination and thereby decrease rates of rehospitalization. We examined whether ACO-affiliated hospitals were more effective than other hospitals in reducing rehospitalizations from skilled nursing facilities. We found a general reduction in rehospitalizations from 2007 to 2013, which suggests that all hospitals made efforts to reduce rehospitalizations. The ACO-affiliated hospitals, however, were able to reduce rehospitalizations more quickly than other hospitals. The reductions suggest that ACO-affiliated hospitals are either discharging to the nursing facilities more effectively compared to other hospitals or targeting at-risk patients better, or enhancing information sharing and communication between hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. Policy makers expect that reducing readmissions to hospitals will generate major savings and improve the quality of life for the frail elderly. However, further work is needed to investigate the precise mechanisms that underlie the reduction of readmissions among ACO-affiliated hospitals.