By Courtney Lee, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT, CFCS
Big changes are coming to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs). Value-based care and the Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM) are poised to change reimbursement for SNFs, and dietitians are taking center stage.
The value-based care model is driven by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) goal of moving away from a fee-for-service reimbursement model. In addition to the clinical services provided, a value-based care model looks at quality of care. For SNFs, the primary quality measure is the number of hospital readmissions within 30 days of admission to the SNF. CMS believes that high quality clinical care at SNFs prevents residents from being readmitted back to the hospital. When quality standards are met, CMS pays SNFs financial incentives.
Registered dietitians have an opportunity to help contribute directly to a SNF’s bottom line by providing nutrition interventions that keep residents from being readmitted back to the hospital. Dehydration is a frequently cited reason for hospital readmission, and dietitians have key roles in identifying, correcting, and even preventing dehydration, which can substantially decrease the number of patients requiring readmission to the hospital.
Likewise, early assessment and management of nutritional problems can promote residents’ overall healing and progress. Prompt medical nutrition therapy to help manage comorbidities can also reduce risk of readmission.
Registered dietitians will also have important roles to play under the new PDPM. Historically, SNFs have been reimbursed by CMS primarily based on services provided by physical and occupational therapy and nursing. Private insurance companies tend to mimic Medicare/Medicaid, so the private sector operated the same way. Under PDPM, a SNF’s reimbursement is based on five case-mix components; one of the case-mix components is called non-therapy ancillary and includes nutrition services and diagnoses, such as enteral and parenteral nutrition, morbid obesity, and malnutrition. Each of these active comorbidities will be assigned a point value. The higher a resident’s score, the more CMS will reimburse a SNF for the resident’s care.
The Dietitian’s Essential Role
For the first time, the nutrition care and interventions registered dietitians have always provided will help bring revenue into the facility. Although much attention has been focused on registered dietitians’ financial impact and influence on malnutrition in acute care, this will be the first time direct correlation will be seen in SNFs. The registered dietitian’s role as the nutrition expert will now help to increase the facility’s revenue, in addition to providing the highest quality care to skilled nursing residents.
Courtney Lee, MS, RDN, CDN, CLT, CFCS consults locally with Dietitians On Demand and also has a virtual private practice, Kitchen Nutrition, LLC. Courtney enjoys equipping dietitians and dietetic interns with the tools they need for professional success so they don’t have to learn the hard way. Courtney enjoys baking, running, and hosting friends and family in her home.
Find her on Instagram @yourkitchennutrition.
Dietitians On Demand is a nationwide staffing and recruiting company for registered dietitians, specializing in short-term, temporary and permanent-hire positions in acute care, long term care and food service positions. We’re dedicated to dietitians and helping them enhance their practice and excel in the workplace. Check out our job openings, request your coverage, or visit our store today!
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Patient Driven Payment Model; Fact Sheet: NTA Comorbidity Score. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-Fee-for-Service-Payment/SNFPPS/PDPM. Revised February 14, 2019. Accessed July 2, 2019.