More rural hospitals are experiencing increased challenges reducing readmission rates. While they struggle at times to have enough patients to keep their doors open (as part of the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010) the provisions put increasing pressure on hospitals to reduce their readmission.
Several factors contribute to increased readmission rates, not the least of which is inadequate care and support once a patient is discharged and sent home. Home care agencies are playing an increasing role in helping hospitals reduce these rates by providing care and support to those men and women who need assistance during the initial days and weeks after discharge.
As reported by MPR News in the blog, How helping patients get good care at home helps rural hospitals survive, written by Blake Farmer:
“Hospitals used to run on a so-called fee-for-service model with virtually no limit to how many times they could see a patient. But, under pressure from private and government insurance programs, that model is transitioning to one in which hospitals are rewarded for safety and efficiency — which often results in a patient spending less time in the hospital.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare began to ding hospitals if too many patients are readmitted to any hospital within 30 days of discharge. The measure is broadly unpopular with the hospital industry, since so much falls outside a hospital’s control. Medicare has even walked back the rules for safety-net facilities, which tend to treat a sicker population.”
As hospitals -especially in more rural regions of the country- understand the value of home care support services more fervently, they may reach out to local agencies and seek help to provide the services their discharged patients require at that time.
It’s no secret that elderly men and women prefer to remain at home, or age in place, as opposed to other facility options, but now it is becoming clearer that home care agencies play an increasing role in reducing hospital readmissions.
Agencies have a great opportunity to reach out and connect with local hospitals to offer services and support to people throughout the community who have recently been hospitalized. While some hospitals may be reticent to forge partnerships or formal business deals with other organizations, they can certainly find out about availability and offer their patients better options compared to being discharged and sent home where they may live alone and have limited access to physical, emotional, or medical support.
As these medical institutions have valued home care more in recent years, it provides another opportunity for agencies to expand their reach.