The nation’s largest senior living provider previously announced it reduced hospitalizations and cut costs during its pilot of a checklist tool in assisted living—and now it has shared some new numbers demonstrating its success.
Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) saw its hospital admissions fall an average of 17% across 46 of its assisted living communities and an average of 16% across 26 of its skilled nursing facilities during the three-year pilot, which was funded by a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Health Innovations Challenge grant worth $7.3 million.
The total cost of care in skilled nursing fell 13% as well.
Some facilities were able to reduce hospitalizations at a higher rate than the pilot average, Kristin Puckett, Brookdale’s director of public relations, told Senior Housing News.
“Communities with good project champions, stable leadership, and good staff retention did better,” Puckett explained.
Brookdale conducted the pilot in partnership with Florida Atlantic University and the University of North Texas Health Science Center.
INTERACT—which stands for Interventions to Reduce Acute Care Transfers—provides communication and checklist tools to help care teams better determine when a senior really must go to the hospital. To adapt the tool to assisted living, project organizers chose components identified as most relevant for seniors in assisted living. Key elements were the STOP and WATCH and SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendations) communication tools, as well as advance care planning resources, according to a press release.
“The program worked because it combines the observation and timely reporting of health changes with the STOP and WATCH tool,” Kevin O’Neil, Brookdale’s chief medical officer and pilot project co-director, said in a prepared statement.
The development and implementation of a comprehensive care transition management technology platform was another crucial component of the pilot, O’Neil said. The training of complete community teams on how to use INTERACT was also key, O’Neil said, explaining that Brookdale educated every associate—from caregivers to bus drivers to wait staff—because they all work with Brookdale residents on a daily basis.
Under Affordable Care Act policies, hospitals have started to see Medicare payments reduced if too many patients are readmitted. That and other policies are positioning assisted living and other senior care providers as valuable partners to hospitals and health systems—if they can successfully keep residents from transferring to the acute care setting.
“The pilot’s results demonstrate the important role that assisted living can serve in containing health care costs while providing greater quality of life to seniors,” O’Neil said. “Assisted living offers the tremendous benefit of a home-like environment. With the availability of onsite home health and therapy services and appropriately trained staff, assisted living can be a lower-cost care option than skilled nursing.”
Brookdale is currently examining implementing the program into more of its assisted living facilities.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson