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Hospital and SNF communications: bridging the gap

Discharging a patient to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) used to be a straightforward process. But according to the American Society for Healthcare Risk Management (ASHRM), it has become extremely complicated. “What previously required only a few key pieces of information about a patient has evolved into a complex process with multiple opportunities for failure,” these experts say.

Communication challenges for SNFs

Patient discharges to skilled nursing facilities often rely on paper forms and phone calls, which can result in the loss of critical information. One study published in JAMA Network found that SNFs reported key information was often missing, such as functional status, behavioral status and clinician contact information. And when key information was transmitted, it often arrived after the patient.

An AGS Journal study said “from the perspective of SNF nurses, difficult hospital-to-SNF transitions were the norm, and when asked to recall the details of a good transition, none were able to do so. Nurses identified poor quality discharge communication as the major barrier to safe and effective transitions.”

Researchers in another JAMA Network study said that “Information quality and flow between hospitals and SNFs at the point of hospital discharge are notoriously poor and delayed. Solutions to information continuity have been slow in coming and often neglect the real-world practical constraints of the SNF setting.”

These communication challenges increase the chances of readmission. In fact, readmissions affect 25% of Medicare beneficiaries released to a skilled nursing facility.

Improving communication between SNFs and hospitals

SNF nurses waste time and feel frustrated when they have to leave phone messages to obtain patient information from busy clinicians. They need an alternative that makes sharing patient information fast and easy.

A modern secure messaging platform like Backline makes sharing key information between SNFs and hospital care teams fast and easy. Backline users from different facilities can access a virtual workspace where information on discharges from hospital to SNF are shared in real time. Since Backline integrates scheduling from both facilities, care team members can use the platform to communicate directly with on-call clinicians across organizations.

About Backline

Designed in collaboration with actual clinicians, Backline is a messaging platform for health systems that goes beyond basic texting. In addition to providing secure texting and telehealth for both care teams and patients, we deliver a virtual workspace that brings together both internal and outside providers to collaborate across units and disciplines. Health systems using Backline optimize their efficiency, while increasing clinician and patient satisfaction.


Test drive the secure texting platform that delivers:

89% faster on-call consults
48% reduction in readmittance
$700k in savings