Modern Healthcare

Redefining the care continuum

From SNF to home

- Benjamin Doga, M.D. Chief Medical Officer LHC Group

Dr. Benjamin Doga, LHC Group’s chief medical officer, oversees clinical processes, quality improvemen­t initiative­s, and a nationwide team of more than 600 medical directors. He received his bachelor’s degree in occupation­al therapy from Northeaste­rn Louisiana University and his medical degree from LSU School of Medicine. He is a boardcerti­fied practicing family medicine physician. He is also a clinical assistant professor of family and community medicine with Tulane Medical Center.

What does “continuum of care” mean at LHC Group?

BD: Our company was founded with the understand­ing that patients and families need better access to quality care – plain and simple. That’s what drives our success and sets a firm foundation for what we offer from a clinical standpoint. But we believe that the continuum is not defined by setting, and that it doesn’t necessaril­y end. In many cases, I think the care continuum exists only as long as interventi­on and treatment are necessary.

At LHC Group, we are focused on the fact that the care continuum exists throughout the life span of the patient, in illness and in health. Part of that focus means directing our attention to areas that are not traditiona­lly associated with the “home health space.” Skilled nursing facilities are a great example.

So where does LHC Group fit in to this “new” space? Can you elaborate further?

BD: The post-acute care segment of our industry has been somewhat divided. On one hand, you have facilities; on the other, you have home care and outpatient providers. In many circles, I don’t think it was outrageous – once upon a time – to assume that we were all in some sort of perpetual competitio­n with one another. We market to the same folks, we see many of the same patients, and there was quite a bit of overlap.

However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve observed that rather than compete with other providers for the same upstream presence, we can focus on those areas where we are the unilateral experts. There was some freedom in that epiphany. We’re more than capable of accepting patients from hospitals, SNFs, etc. – but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the journey is not the same for all patients. Consider choice, for example: If an individual does not want SNF care, they may opt to discharge home. On the other hand, they may opt to discharge to the SNF ahead of a return to the community.

So, we’re seeing gaps, or hurdles, created in the care continuum that need to be addressed. From our perspectiv­e, the point of home discharge is our line of demarcatio­n – whether coming from a SNF, hospital, or any other setting.

While most of the industry is talking about “diversion,” it seems like LHC Group isn’t necessaril­y trying to work around SNFs, but with them. Would that be a fair assumption?

BD: Yes, to a certain degree. I think it is more correct to say that we’re focusing on patients wherever they are at the point of discharge to the community. At this point, we know many patients benefit from SNF care, just as they do hospital care or home healthcare – that’s a given. There’s a portion of the population that “diversion” doesn’t address, and we think that’s a miss.

Again, it’s helpful to remember and understand where our company came from – and the mindset that we’ve developed over time: We want to make healthcare work better. It makes more sense for us to work with providers across all settings to make sure that when the day does come for a patient to go home, they do so with a level of care that specifical­ly meets their individual needs. Our goal is to provide solutions to patients and partners. Thinking outside of industry norms and finding new ways to meet community needs is part of our DNA.

As the preferred joint venture partner for almost 400 leading U.S. hospitals and health systems, LHC Group works in cooperatio­n with providers to customize each partnershi­p and reach more patients and families with an effective and efficient model of care. This Executive Insight was produced and brought to you by:

To learn more about partnering with LHC Group, please visit www.lhcgroup.com/bettertoge­ther.

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