Health Affairs: Outcomes After Shortened Skilled Nursing Facility Stays Suggest Potential for Improving Post Acute Care Efficiency

Reducing postacute care in skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in favor of home-based care is a leading cost-saving strategy in new payment models. Marked reductions in length-of-stay because of cost sharing shifted patients to home more than a week earlier than expected without cost sharing, producing a discharge spike. These reductions were not associated with clear evidence of compromised patient safety as measured by death, hospitalization for fall-related injuries, or all-cause hospitalization within nine days of the spike. Adverse consequences requiring hospitalization could not be excluded for a small proportion of shortened stays. These findings suggest potential for improving postacute care efficiency, as SNF stays may be unnecessarily long to ensure safety.

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