Recent media coverage of the Occupy movement from Wall Street to Wilmington illustrates the growing disenchantment with the status quo in America.
That kind of discord is also evident in the health care system, as skyrocketing costs continue to sap consumers and have detrimental effects on the economy. The new Affordable Care Act was signed as a way to curtail that, but no one can guarantee that it will stop the surge of health care expenses.
One thing we must curtail now is the rehospitalization of patients. Readmissions are a major drain on our economic system. The Wall Street Journal reports that 4.4 million hospital stays are from potentially preventable readmissions. Those readmissions are costing $30 billion a year, or roughly 10 percent of all money spent on hospital care.
One in five Medicare patients will be readmitted within 30 days after an initial visit, and in many instances, those repeat visits can be avoided.
In half of those cases, patients did not see a doctor before being readmitted. Many patients don’t follow up with a doctor once they leave a hospital because they are fearful of ending up readmitted again or don’t understand the risks of missing a follow-up appointment. Patricia Rutherford, vice president of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, acknowledged the problem to the Washington Post earlier this year.
“We don’t do a good job of coordinating care,” Rutherford said. “For very sick patients being discharged, 30 days is way too late to see a doctor.”
Home care agencies such as Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services can help better coordinate care for discharged patients and ease their concerns. Home care offers patients the option to be treated in the comfort of their own home. Home care saves millions of dollars each year, and can create faster recovery times for patients.
Recovery time at home increases even more with proper planning of care. Follow-up with patients is vital, including self-management programs, counseling and developing exercise programs for recovery.
November is National Home Care Month, giving us all an opportunity to appreciate the valuable services that home care provides. But the benefits of home care aren’t just reserved for one month – home care can make a big difference year round.
That’s the message that patients, and everyone else, need to understand. No one wants them to return to hospital rooms. Instead, those patients can get the care they need in the place they want – their home. Let’s get that movement started now.
President, Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services