As the Affordable Care Act shapes the future of patient care in the United States, the issue of healthcare’s “revolving door,” or avoidable hospital readmissions, continues to take a front seat in the national conversation. Rehospitalization among Medicare beneficiaries has become a top priority for both policymakers and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as hospitals feel added pressure to help patients remain at home.
Front Range Hospice is working hard at maintaining current relationships and developing strong relationships with the hospitals in our service territory. Front Range Hospice is the first hospice along the northern front range to track return to hospital rates along with other clinical data measures on patients receiving care through Front Range Hospice. Why do we track data you ask?
Nearly one in five Medicare beneficiaries is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of release. As of this post Front Range Hospice has a zero percent return to hospital rate. Tracking this data allowed us to show our hospital partners how hard we work to support our patients and our hospital partners.
The CMS has taken on several initiatives to reduce readmissions – an important measure of patient care quality – from reporting hospital readmission rates and changing payment policies, to implementing shared savings programs in efforts to increase care coordination among post-acute care providers.
The biggest change, as part of the healthcare overhaul: Medicare began penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates for heart failure, heart attack, and pneumonia cases. In 2012 more than 2,000 hospitals received a reduction of up to one percent on their Medicare reimbursements. This penalty will increase to a maximum of two percent this year 2014, and three percent in 2015.
Because Front Range Hospice has developed chronic disease programs our staff is trained on how to manage chronic diseases like CHF and COPD in the home. Front Range Hospice nurses are able to better support the patient and family at home, reducing or eliminating the return to the hospital. Resulting in better family satisfaction and no penalties issued to the hospital.
Why Are Patients Returning to The Hospital?
There are some return trips to the hospital that are unavoidable – due to complications, new and unrelated problems, or anticipated steps of certain treatment plans. Some patients are also readmitted because they live in a region where hospitals are used more frequently as a place of care for illnesses.
Regardless of where patients reside, education and support are key factors in preventing readmissions to hospitals. We work hard to provide education to our patients and families with every interaction we have with them. The more education, the more comfortable the patient and family will feel, resulting in decreased or eliminating the trip to the ED or calling 911.
The Role of Hospice
Front Range Hospice is a leader in improving coordination of care between care settings and reducing avoidable hospital readmissions. Increasingly, hospitals are forming collaborative partnerships with hospice providers like Front Range Hospice, nursing homes and home care agencies to combat avoidable readmissions.
Front Range Hospice works closely with the hospitals, patients and families to identify care preferences, manage symptoms, and address clinical, emotional and spiritual needs through a team-oriented, interdisciplinary approach. This type of care allows patients to pick up the phone in a time of crisis and receive emergency medications at home, or a facility, without returning to the hospital.
Integrating hospice care services early in the hospital stay and making timely and appropriate hospice referrals can not only improve patient experiences, but address some of the most important issues faced by hospitals today: quality improvement, overcrowding in the ICU, increasing coordination of care, preventing complications, reducing costs – and ultimately, reducing return trips to the hospital in a patient’s final stages of life when comfort matters most.