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“Frenemies” No More: 5 Steps to Improve Communication between Hospitals & Nursing Homes

Posted by Rachel Verslues on Mar 28, 2016 10:00:00 AM

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Here is a question for hospitals and nursing homes: Does it ever seem like you guys are frenemies? You know, friends that also sometimes act like enemies?

The question might seem odd, but if you think about it, you could make a case that relationships between hospitals and nursing homes frequently lack in the communication department. You could also argue that both parties tend to think about their own needs and disregard the impact of their actions on the other side. Plus, there is a good amount of blaming each other – especially when it comes to the issue of who is responsible for hospital readmissions!

On the other hand, hospitals and nursing homes can be a great team – together they treat patients, they work in close proximity, rely on each other, and they share common goals surrounding patient care. So maybe “frenemies” is a little harsh.

The point is that with a few adjustments, the relationship between hospitals and nursing homes could be more satisfactory and productive.

Download our whitepaper, "Coordinating Care: A Guide for Nursing Homes" for tips on how to work cooperatively with physicians and hospitals to drive better outcomes for patients 

Let’s revisit the topic of communication for a minute. Good communication is an essential part of every strong relationship. With that in mind, here are five simple steps to help improve communication surrounding care transitions and shared patients between hospitals and nursing homes:

  1. Assign a transfer coordinator.
    Put someone from your institution in charge of managing patient transfers. Assign accountability to that person for overseeing transfers, communications, and handling issues.

  2. Rework transfer procedures and documents.
    Make sure that the materials, technology, and processes you are using effectively put the appropriate information into the hands of the right person.

  3. Prioritize sharing of key information.
    Communicate the most pertinent patient information first. Share red flags or potential transfer deal breakers upfront. Make it a point to ensure the receiving side understands a patient’s condition and is prepared to accept the transfer.

  4. Ask for feedback from the other side.
    Find out what you can do to make life easier for your counterparts on the other side. Ask if there is missing information or whether there are things you could be doing differently to make communications more clear.

  5. Agree to treat readmissions as a mutual problem.
    Instead of debating fault, work together to prevent readmissions. You’ll accomplish more once you quit trying to assign blame.

Use this list as a jumping off point. Relationships take work. If yours becomes strained, step back and examine where there are problems and what is causing issues. There is a good chance that it is communication related.

Do you have other suggestions for improving the relationship between hospitals and nursing homes? Leave a comment.


Topics: care coordination, long-term care

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