Do You Have A PARC Ranger on Your Team?

by Stefani Daniels, Managing Partner
Published on Feb 02, 2016

Based on our totally unscientific studies of client patient disposition codes, 37% of hospitalized patients would benefit from the expertise of a care coordinator to support their navigation through an episode of care and transition to the community. When it comes to making logistical arrangements for discharging these patients,referrals to a PARC specialist is most efficient. And nurses access it as well for those routine discharges that does not require a professional middle-man!

The collaborative nature of care coordination (or care/case management, if you prefer), from admission through transition and beyond, is the cornerstone of promoting efficient resource utilization, quality of care, and achieving cost efficent outcomes.  However, one of the challenges of a successful care coordination program is how to maximize human resources to meet the growing demands of the marketplace.

Every day, care coordinators collaborate with their patients' care team to determine the most appropriate post acute plan to meet patient needs;  and every day, thousands of phone calls, faxes and emails are processed to locate services.  With available technology,  there is no reason why professional time must be wasted printing and copying patient information and sitting on a phone next to a fax machine to communicate with a variety of post acute care providers. 

There are several national vendors such as Allscripts and Morrisey that market excellent automated post acute solutions.  Their products may vary but not the three most direct benefits of using them::

  1. Enhances staff efficiency.  The time to effect a discharge is significantly reduced by quickly identifying available options without having to phone or fax.
  2. Increases revenue.  Speeding up the process means that throughput is improved which significantly reduces avoidable days and payment denials.
  3. Patient satisfaction.  The amount and quality of the information presented to the family and patient gives them broader options to consider.

 When these automated communication tools first appeared in the hospital,  each care coordinator was trained to access the electronic portal independently. But that resulted in multiple inquirys from the same facility with each care coordinator vying for limited community resources. The inefficiency of that model was quickly realized and with the support of consulting firms like Phoenix Medical Management, hospital across the country moved quickly to design a centralized post acute resource center (PARC).. It didn't take long for hospital execs and case management program leaders to recognize that with the benefit of a centralized automated referral system, a professional license really wasn't necessary to facilitate the logistical arrangements.  Today, centralized PARCs are staffed with a diverse mix of personnel from many backgrounds such as practical nursing, EMT, veteran medics, and unit secretaries.  Working together, they quickly become expert in their knowledge of payer preferred providers, regulatory requirements, and the paperwork process demanded by each payer. 

Today PARC centers do more than arrange post acute placement services.  They also make appointments for patients at clinics or primary care physicians.  They arrange home health services for patients who are in the ED and wouldn't need to be placed in observation if home care could be quickly arranged.  Similarly, an ED patient who had been discharged from the hospital a few days ago but can't be cared for by an elderly spouse, could be directly admitted to a SNF with the help of the PARC. In most organizations, the PARC is staffed seven (7) days a week and is so finely orchestrated that the staff are able to do follow up phone calls of newly discharged patients.  In addition, it's not unusal to discover that once the local medical community learn about the PARC, they will access the center to request help in finding medical or clinical services for their office patients.

Electronically exchanging information via a web portal  eliminates time-draining telephone tag, fax exchanges and unnecessasry trips to the hospital by local post acute providers.  If you're still using professional staff to serve as the hospital's 'travel agents,' perhaps it's time to consider the value-added services the PARC brings to the care management team, the medical staff, the patient, and the community.