The federal government has been levying fines against hospitals that fail to reduce their readmission rates. Nursing homes are also being fined for failing to provide adequate care and avoid patients returning to the hospital. In Connecticut, 75 percent of nursing homes throughout the state are receiving penalties based on how often their patients need to be readmitted to the hospital.
Technically speaking, a hospital readmission is any time a patient must be readmitted within 30 days of their discharge. As a majority of the nursing homes in Connecticut are receiving penalties, it poses an opportunity for home care companies operating within the state.
The focus of some nursing homes has shifted from long-term care to short-term rehabilitation, and those who understand the home care industry best realize there is an opportunity to help aging and disabled clients receive better, more personalized care in the comfort of their home, which has the potential to dramatically reduce the risk of readmissions.
As reported by the CT Post in the blog, Nursing homes penalized for hospital readmissions, written by Cara Rosner:
“Nursing homes increasingly are acting as short-term rehabilitation facilities and, therefore, play a major role in preventing readmissions, said Lisa Freeman, executive director of the Connecticut Center for Patient Safety. More and more, hospitals are discharging patients earlier than they used to, leading patients to recover in a nursing home setting rather than a hospital.
“(Nursing homes) are taking on much more serious patients. It’s critical that they be directly involved in that whole avoidance-of-readmissions process,” Freeman said. “We can’t simply fault one piece of the puzzle. The real problems are problems that typically involve a number of different things, and communication is a big part of it, always. But we do have to motivate any party that’s involved to provide appropriate aftercare.””
While it’s true that nursing homes take on patients who are facing more serious health issues, well-equipped home care agencies, especially those relying on visiting nurses, may be able to reach out to this population and offer improved support and service to help them on the road to recovery.
Hospital readmissions costs Medicare billions of dollars every year. By offering an alternative to elderly patients, something other than nursing home care, it can provide an environment and atmosphere conducive to recovery.
Helping to reduce readmissions will not only save Medicare potentially billions of dollars, it also improves recovery and quality of life for those same men and women who face challenging times ahead. Home care may very well sit on the precipice of becoming an even more integral part of the health care sector.