Post-acute Care: Significance and Future

May 4, 2018

Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

 

Post-acute care is a crucial aspect of medical care that is often underestimated, particularly by the patients. After a hospital stay following an accident, when a patient is discharged, comes the time to undergo intense recovery. Hospitals often treat a discharge as the end of their responsibility, after suggesting post-acute care facilities to turn to. However, after the critical work is done, it’s essential for the patient’s optimal health and long-term health prospects to recover under skilled care.

The importance of critical post-acute long-term care services should not be underestimated. The rapidly increasing number of seniors in the United States makes this issue all the more relevant as time goes on. Over 2/3 of the population over 65 years of age generally have to deal with impaired physical function, and the number of patients who require temporary care after a hospital stay in all age groups is even greater.

Spending, care quality and patient outcomes are being heeded increased policymaker and payer attention, which leads to a decrease in hospital readmissions. In fact, health systems are being financially penalized for readmissions (30-day readmissions in case of Medicare Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program), which makes them increasingly interested in partnering with post-acute health care providers. A smooth transition from the hospital to a post-acute facility is crucial to recovery. It entails integrated/coordinated care, with physical, behavioral and social support needs being addressed. Acute and post-acute care providers have been informally working together already for a period of time, but now their cooperation is taking clearer shape.

The following types of health issues often require post-acute care:

  • Stroke
  • Hip fracture/replacement
  • Tracheotomy weaning
  • Post-ventilator care
  • Post-open heart (grafts, valves, stints)

Post-acute care providers are available at various facilities. You can find them at assisted living communities, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities. Both short-term and long-term care is available, and with the health care reform putting increasingly greater emphasis on the care continuum and post-acute care, the range of care models is increasing. The post-acute medical care team may include the following health care experts:

  • Attending physician
  • Rehabilitation therapists
  • RNs and licensed nurses
  • Social workers
  • Case managers
  • Dietitians
  • Nursing assistants

The main goal of post-acute care is to recover the patient’s health and help them recover independence, in order to prepare them for a return to independent living at their home. Patients are assessed when they are referred, the level of acuity is determined, and his or her medical needs are subsequently addressed in the most efficient manner possible. Besides the major conditions, all the comorbidities, physician’s recommendations, medical records, diagnostic test and lab results, medications, etc. are assessed closely and a care plan is worked out worked out within 48 hours.

Considering the great importance of post-acute care in patient recovery, it’s only logical that care organizations are joining into networks to provide the best, most well-coordinated, efficient, seamless care across the board.

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