Atlanta, GA,
09:57 AM

Making Connections

ShepherdConnect helps employers expand healthcare choices for employees and healthcare systems achieve better outcomes for patients.


Shepherd Center recently launched a new partnership program called ShepherdConnect. It’s designed so that employers, hospitals and health systems can connect their employees, families and patients to the world-class rehabilitation care that Shepherd Center provides when patients and families need it most.

ShepherdConnect is a resource for both health plan participants and workers compensation-related cases. By partnering with Shepherd Center, people will have access to specialized medical treatment all in one place – including physical, occupational, speech and recreational therapy, as well as vocational rehabilitation when appropriate.

“Very few places like Shepherd exist,” explains Shepherd Center Chief Strategy Officer Chet Bhasin, MBA, MS, FACHE. “We aim to help people get back to their communities.”

A partnership with Shepherd Center offers a host of benefits to both employers and healthcare organizations. 

“As healthcare gets more complex, more patients are seeking care outside of their metro area, and Shepherd Center is trying to be accessible for as many patients as possible,” Bhasin explains.

“This program will assist thousands of employers in increasing the access and quality of care for their covered lives. Our goal is to continually be a progressive source for care.”

How Does it Work for Employers?

When an employee (or their dependent) of a corporation or organization that has partnered with Shepherd Center sustains a spinal cord injury or brain injury, has a stroke or experiences complications from multiple sclerosis, a Shepherd Center access case manager will provide a timely, on-site evaluation in the patient’s acute care hospital anywhere in the United States. The access case manager will help arrange cost-effective and appropriate medical transportation to Shepherd Center. In some cases, Shepherd-provided housing is available for families of patients where both the patient and family live more than 60 miles from Shepherd Center.

Employees who complete rehabilitation and are able to return to work sooner may not need an extended leave covered by disability insurance or workers’ compensation benefits, saving employers money. Expanding healthcare choice and offering additional value to existing healthcare programs can also help employers recruit and retain great employees.

“Shepherd was built from the ground up to serve patients who are typically working-age who have complex injuries and illnesses,” says Shepherd Center’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Managed Care Mitch Fillhaber, MS. “When they are injured, there are significant costs and lifestyle disruptions.”

Employers also can lower long-term healthcare costs because Shepherd Center:

  • Helps patients return to their communities nearly 90% of the time.
  • Helps reduce hospital readmission rates and costly transfers by using our on-site ICU specialized therapy in the same facility without the cost of a transfer.
  • Helps patients be more independent when they return home.
  • Continues to follow high-risk patients post-discharge.
  • Helps patients return to work after rehabilitation.

How Does it Work for Hospitals and Health Systems?
Hospitals and health systems who partner with Shepherd Center through ShepherdConnect will be able to provide specialized and experienced, post-acute rehabilitation care to patients with complex brain injuries, spinal cord injury, stroke and multiple sclerosis.

“The program offers an easy path to Shepherd Center for their patients’ post-acute care,” Fillhaber says.

Patients treated at Shepherd Center are much less likely to be readmitted than patients treated in similar hospitals. Shepherd Center’s data on discharges of patients covered by all payor types reveals a 5% readmission rate within 30 days after discharge. That figure is significantly lower than the 24.6% industry average readmission rate for facilities with similar licensure, based on publicly available data.

Healthcare leaders can partner with Shepherd Center to: 

  • Achieve optimal patient outcomes, including for those with the most complex cases.
  • Help reduce costly hospital transfers and/or hospital readmissions.
  • Give patients access to cutting-edge research and services.
  • Support patients’ quality of life once they return to your community.

Corporations, organizations, hospitals or health systems that are interested in entering a partnership agreement with Shepherd through ShepherdConnect can call 404-350-7313 or email to learn more.

Written by Christy Rosell and Robin Yamakawa

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.