Over 1.1 million patients admitted annually to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) for post-acute care after a hospitalization have Alzheimer?s Disease or Related Dementias (ADRD), and their outcomes are poor and variable. Given the high clinical complexity and care coordination needs of patients with ADRD, one potential solution to improving the outcomes of patients with ADRD receiving SNF care is through physicians who specialize in SNF-based care. ?SNFists? (i.e., physicians for whom SNF patients comprise the majority of their practice) are becoming increasingly common. Our prior work found a 37% increase in the prevalence of SNFists from 2012 to 2015, with a high degree of variability across markets. In this study, we will examine whether physicians specializing in SNF-based care improve functional outcomes and reduce potentially avoidable healthcare utilization (such as hospital readmissions) of patients with ADRD receiving post-acute care in SNFs. To accomplish these goals, we will expand an existing dataset of Medicare claims and SNF clinical assessment data for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries discharged from an acute care hospital to a SNF from 2012 through 2019. Using this database, we will examine the trends in physician specialization in SNF care in the context of market, facility, and physician characteristics. Next, we will measure the impact of physician specialization in SNF care on the outcomes and healthcare utilization of patients with ADRD using difference-in-differences cross-temporal matching. Lastly, we will conduct semi-structured interviews with key SNF personnel (e.g., director of nursing, medical director) to quantitatively identify practice strategies and care processes that differ between physicians in high- vs. low-performing SNFs based on the outcomes of patients with ADRD. When complete, these studies will inform practice and policy to optimize (increase or reduce) post- acute care patients? access to physicians who specialize in SNF-based care. The findings will be used to develop interventions to improve the value of SNF-based post-acute care for patients with ADRD.
Over a million patients admitted annually to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) for post-acute care after a hospitalization have Alzheimer?s Disease or Related Dementias (ADRD), and their outcomes are poor and variable. The current study will examine whether physicians that specialize in SNF-based care (SNFists) improve functional outcomes and reduce healthcare utilization of patients with ADRD receiving care in SNFs. We will also qualitatively evaluate how physician practices differ between high- vs. low-performing SNFs.