Patients with multiple chronic conditions are the focus of a newly formed division of investor-owned DaVita that will treat patients in the home, a skilled-nursing facility or at a dialysis center.

The division, called DaVita Health Solutions, partners with payers to provide post-acute care for patients with three or more chronic conditions, including congestive heart failure, COPD and end-stage renal disease, the area where DaVita got its start. Hospitals and medical groups may also be minority partners in arrangements the new division enters into, DaVita Inc. Chairman and CEO Kent Thiry said.

With the aging of the baby boom generation, the provision of chronic care is expected to grow significantly in coming years.

In addition to its mainstay dialysis care, DaVita will draw on its experience owning a medical group division operating in seven states.

In addition to offering to provide care in SNFs, the effort employs "SNFists" — skilled-nursing facility specialists in the vein of a hospitalist — as part of a coordinated care team that is physician-led and also may include nurse practitioners, registered nurses, behavioral health specialists, palliative care specialists, social workers, pharmacists and dietitians.

The payer and DaVita will share the cost of providing the care and in the reimbursement for the post-acute patients, Thiry said. Less than a year into its first such partnership, Thiry said that average length of stay for SNF patients fell to 11 days from 22, and SNF readmissions fell to 9 percent from 23 percent.

The new Health Solutions division does not aim to provide care to all types of patients covered by the payer partner, said Thiry. “What makes this different is we’re carving out specific specialties,” Thiry said.