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Is Post-Acute Care Dropping the Ball on Hospital Readmissions?

post-acute careResearch on hospital readmission rates—particularly readmissions involving Medicare patients—is a relatively new demand, having emerged with the Affordable Care Act in 2010 when the federal government began implementing fines and penalties to hospitals with high preventable readmission rates, the goal being an $8 billion reduction of unnecessary government healthcare spending. With the government placing full responsibility for readmission rates on hospitals, there has been a significant increase of attention given to the roles and responsibilities of other facets in the continuity of care chain that may contribute to the problem.

Though offering nothing conclusive on the matter, the study does point to several potential reasons that post-acute care professionals fail to comply with the care instructions given by hospitals at patient handoff. Among these are miscommunications such as simply neglecting to see the instructions, the inability to distinguish between existing conditions and those of current concern, and discharging the patient before it was necessary to provide care. More significantly, these researchers point out that post-acute care professionals may be deliberately rejecting hospital instructions, instead caring for patients based on their own expertise in post-acute care.

Despite all of the studies being conducted with the hope of identifying why hospital readmission rates sometimes occur, the only thing that has been concluded besides the need for more research is that there is a dire insufficiency of communication between transitioning facilities. How can we use these findings to improve the quality of patient care and reduce hospital readmission rates? McNight’s Long-Term Care News Editor James M. Berklan has one prediction: “Personal care coordination services…will present significant value to [health care professionals] and their customers.”

General Medicine, the post-hospitalist company, offers solutions for the lacuna of care coordination between hospitals and post acute facilities by providing services in care coordination from a team-oriented delivery system. Together with hospital nursing staff, General Medicine works to reduce hospital readmissions by improving patient care and overseeing handoffs. To learn more contact General Medicine today.

Tom Prose