Innovative Care Through Strategic Partnerships
Collaboration solves patient problems
by Greg Bellomy

The health care system is stuck between a rock and a hard place, or so it seems. While striving to provide patients with better outcomes and quality care, providers are grappling with budget constraints.

At a time when compromising on costs or care is simply not an option, health care providers and organizations must seek innovative solutions to ensure that health systems, payers and patients succeed together. As the chief strategic growth officer of Bayada Home Health Care—which provides nursing, rehabilitative, therapeutic, hospice and assistive care services to children, adults and seniors in the comfort of their homes—I have witnessed firsthand that with the right strategic partnerships in place, this approach to care can create ideal outcomes for everyone involved. So, what makes for a great partnership?

The Value of Collaboration

Consider the path of a typical client. Clients may enter the hospital for a variety of reasons, such as heart failure. After hospitalization, they may likely be placed in a nursing home covered by Medicare with skilled staff, but it isn’t because they are unstable—it’s simply because they require surveillance to avoid re-hospitalization, which is costly for all involved and less comfortable for clients.

With a strategic partnership, hospital systems can reserve beds in alternative settings, such as senior living communities, offering clients a true home setting. At the same time, the partnership provides quality care at lower costs while reducing the chance of hospital readmissions and ultimately providing clients with a better, dignified experience.

A great partnership will provide specialty services in a variety of settings, understanding that each partner and client has unique needs. For example, we have worked with a health system that was reserving beds in a local hotel to monitor transplant clients in case of a decline in status after surgery. Through a strategic partnership, we were able to provide a better solution: an alternative, senior living setting that allowed clients to live more comfortably while getting the best possible care at a lower cost. Innovative solutions, though, should not stop at settings—they should also be client-focused.

A quality strategic partnership should foster innovative collaboration and monitoring between health care providers. In many cases, providers are trained to work in specific settings and may only address conditions through the course of clinical treatment. That’s not necessarily realistic, as a non-clinical nuance that triggers an event requires a more holistic approach to client care across the health care ecosystem.

We’ve seen this in our Center for Integrative Care pilot in Philadelphia. Each client’s team monitors for any and all changes in status that could be indicators of risk to the client and then informs the necessary specialty offices so the client can get the necessary assessments to preempt a hospitalization. In addition to monitoring for changes in clinical status, the team keeps an eye out for other factors that might impact the client, such as a consistently empty fridge, and reports to the appropriate people, such as social services.

While the Philadelphia pilot has been in existence for a year, one success story is that of a client who was living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that was difficult to control. Staff observed that he did not have air conditioning in his apartment, so they worked with a local organization to give him a free unit that helped control his COPD, ultimately improving his overall quality of life.

Another example is an opportunity we found, collaboratively, to improve a client’s overall quality of life through sunflowers. A client was so resistant to using her walker that she was almost removed from her living program due to being a high fall risk.

Over time, the program managers learned that the client had an exceptional love for sunflowers. The managers decided to decorate her walker with sunflowers, and to their pleasant surprise, the client became compliant with respect to using her walker, allowing her to stay in the program for a longer period of time and lead a better quality of life. This story is one of many examples demonstrating why seeking out unconventional methods, in conjunction with traditional clinical care, should be the gold standard of care.

A factor that has been particularly significant for us is being strategic in seeking out like-minded providers for collaboration. Our organization is, and always has been, a mission-driven company.

Just last year, Bayada founder Mark Baiada took the unique step of transitioning the company into a non-profit organization to ensure that the company will not be sold, and to pursue his vision of putting the company in a position to work toward health care solutions.

By repositioning the company, Baiada put his stake in the ground: We’re here for the long haul, and we want to be an integral partner in solving health care problems. As a result, we are always looking for partners that share our vision to create solutions for positive change in health care, as opposed to changing our values for financial reasons. Simply put, providing cost-effective, high-quality care comes down to being proactive, not reactive, to avoid hospitalizations.

By entering into strategic partnerships with organizations that are adaptable to any setting, open to patient-centered solutions and willing to think long term in a holistic way, health care providers can make a positive impact across the continuum of care for clients, without creating a financial burden for payers.