There are always many options for a patient who needs post acute care, but little direction for choosing the right place. Patients or family members don’t have a great amount of guidance as to what’s important, and they often end up choosing a facility based on factors that shouldn’t be at the top of the list.
What’s the problem?
When it’s time for discharge, the hospital usually gives the patient a list of facilities nearby and lets them choose. There are federal laws that restrict what the hospitals can recommend, which were enacted due to potential financial considerations; basically, because it can pose a conflict of interest. While in some ways this can protect the patient, in other ways it leaves them hanging – if they can’t ask their doctors, who can they ask? Medical professionals avoid saying even slight information because of the risk associated with these laws. Family members are meant to do research themselves, but there’s often high drama while the patient is in the hospital, and there’s usually not too much time to do anything but the most cursory investigations before it’s time to move on.
Today, around 20% of patients leaving a hospital need to spend some time at a post acute care facility before heading home. This amounts to more than 8 million people, and as the population ages, that number is sure to grow. This poses more challenge to hospitals and will bring a greater number of people who are pushed out of the hospitals and into post acute care to free up beds.
Additionally, many of the patients who are having trouble may come from a different culture and have limited English-speaking skills. This makes it all the more difficult for them to navigate the system and choose the right next step for their loved one.
How do patients choose a post acute care facility?
With the limited resources that they have, patients have to choose what matters in a facility. This often ends up being location and where their cousin’s grandfather went. In other words, they don’t get a good sense of the quality of care. This, of course, can have drastic, often negative consequences. Because post acute care is so important, if he doesn’t get proper care after discharge, a patient can end up back in the hospital or develop new symptoms he didn’t even have before.
Better opportunities for post acute care
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, or CMS, has proposed new legislation that would compel doctors to provide information about the quality of nearby facilities to patients. They are currently working on a model for how that information would be given over, considering the conflict of interest legislation that currently governs how little information can be transmitted.
Along with this, hospitals may need to establish a team that works with the patient to figure out the next step, and together with a discharge they must give an appropriate recommendation for a post acute care facility. Hospitals can create standardized forms that can partially negate the possibility of misinformation and pair a social worker and a doctor with each family to offer guidance. With standardization, protocols, and supervision, physician’s should be able to give over the necessary information without having to worry about financial conflicts of interest, and patients and their families can get real access to the information they desperately need.
At Sinai Post Acute Care Center for Rehabilitation in Newark, New Jersey, we offer premium services for our post hospitalization patients. We’ll patiently explain everything you need to know about the process and work with your needs to supply the best care.