Smart strategies to getting the best post-acute care
Post-acute care. Sounds serious, doesn’t it? Sometimes, it can be. Post-acute care is important as a rehabilitative process that includes various forms of extended help. “Patients go to the hospital to get their acute care needs met, and they might need extended help with rehabilitating those conditions,” said Matt Hefner, CEO, and director of Palm Terrace Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center.
Meet the discharge planner
Some patients may be referred to a skilled nursing facility after the hospital to continue physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, or receive an IV to treat an infection. “Patients usually stay around two to three weeks in the acute care facility after their hospital stay,” Hefner said.
“There is a discharge planner at the hospital that works with patients or the patient’s family in selecting a post-acute care facility that best fits their needs,” said Hefner. The discharge planner plays an important role in contacting the selected facility, discussing insurance coverage, and determining the clinical needs of the patient. Finally, the planner will follow up to see if the facility has reached out to the patient, letting them know they can take them and making arrangements for admitting.
Tour the post-acute care facility
Most post-acute facilities welcome visits and such contact is encouraged by most doctors. They believe that when the patient has a better understanding of the care services process and has discussed options with the medical team, he or she is more likely to respond better to care and enjoy a faster recovery.
Though often viewed as a standard procedure in the recovery process, the matter of participating in post-acute care is optional for patients. Yet, health contributor Kerri Fitzgerald pointed out in her article that “studies have shown that patients who receive post-acute care following a major medical event have improved clinical outcomes compared with patients who are discharged without follow-up care.” She added that because the aging population continues to grow, the demand for post-acute care has become a focus for the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid services.
Consider the continuity of care
An important matter to discuss with your doctor and the discharge planner is the relationship a hospital sustains with a post-acute care facility. At a time when the health of a patient is pivotal, the hospital’s ability to communicate regularly with follow-up care is essential.
“Continuity is an important part of care because we see the patients in the hospital, and we see them in the post-acute care setting as well,” said Dr. Robert Cho, a hospitalist, and internist with Hoag Orthopedic Institute. “We know exactly what is going on with the patient from start to finish.”
With such care getting the financial nod from federal healthcare programs, the decision to use post-acute care is a wise choice. But how can you be sure the facility you choose is the right one for you? And how can you find a facility that best serves the specific type of care you or a loved one needs? Hefner explained that such questions are precisely why talking with a discharge planner, touring a facility beforehand, and selecting one that offers continuity of care is so important.
Your hospital stay should be focused on providing the best care possible. But the additional care services that follow the hospital stay should treat your recovery as a top priority as well. By meeting with your doctor and a discharge planner, touring potential facilities, and discussing the relation with your hospital staff and the staff at your selected post-acute care facility, you can be sure the care you receive following your hospital stay will reflect the best care possible.