When the federal government initially proposed fining hospitals for failing to reduce their readmission rates, many of those organizations directly affected by potential fines cried foul. Many hospitals said readmissions were being their ability to control and fining them was only going to lead to fewer opportunities to assist patients who needed care. However, a recent report has found that this pressure has led to some ancillary benefits, including improve support and care at home.
According to a CNBC report entitled, New incentives for hospitals are improving quality of care for patients at home, written by Berkeley Lovelace, Jr.:
“A recent report from The Commonwealth Fund found the percentage of home-health patients who got better at walking or moving around, a key measure of quality of care, rose in every state from 2013 to 2016. The group, which tracks performance in health systems nationwide, also found that hospital readmission rates for elderly Medicare beneficiaries continued to fall in nearly half the states from 2012 to 2015.
The improvement in care at home comes at a time when hospitals are forced to alter the way they deliver care, which can include providing more outpatient services or consulting patients online. Hospital admissions and length of stays have slumped in the U.S. over the years as more people are seeking cheaper alternatives or looking to fulfill their health-care needs more conveniently.”
When patients are discharged from the hospital and sent home without any real information, physical, emotional, or medical support, the risk of complications and other problems can dramatically increase. Now that hospitals are incentivized to ensure that their patients are doing what’s necessary and beneficial for their health at home through the support and encouragement of in home care services, it’s having a direct impact on readmission rates.
Not everyone who is discharged from the hospital is going to need in-home care support, but for those who have complications, serious health issues, or limited mobility can benefit. It also helps aging men and women who may not fully understand what’s expected of them with regard to their health, limitations, physical therapy, medications, checking vitals, and more.
With hospitals taking a greater interest in the quality of care and support for their patients upon discharge and for the weeks and months afterward, the results are promising: improved health, reduced risk of complications, and lower readmission rates.
In home care aides and visiting nurses are in the trenches, helping to bring about these positive changes that are reducing long-term costs of taxpayers and hospitals across the country.