Panelists Discuss the Importance of Improving Patient Outcomes

Posted on Friday, October 7, 2016 1:27 PM

According to a panel of experts, in order to improve patient outcomes and reduce readmissions, agencies need to ensure that patients are given the best post-acute care at discharge.

According to Win Whitcomb, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Remedy Partners, a firm that assists hospitals with bundled payments, “it’s difficult for hospitals to optimize their decision-making about patients’ next site of care because there is so much emphasis on reducing the length of stay.” He also said, “it’s important for care teams to take time to identify patients who would do well at home or in home health care, as that can reduce unneeded costs for patients.”

There are four key actions that doctors can take to better direct patients to the appropriate post-acute care, said Whitcomb, who is also a hospitalist and “SNFist”:
• Order an evaluation to explore the possibility of home health
• When discussing next site of care, ask, “Why not home?”
• Consider palliative care options
• Communicate closely during handoff to a post-acute care facility for high-risk patients

According to Win Whitcomb, M.D., “Remedy Partners also created a decision-making tool called CARL–Care at the Right Location–to assist providers with choosing the appropriate post-acute care.”

Additionally, the panelists discussed advances in the home health industry. According to Tracey Moorhead, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, “research proves the need for home health and its benefits to patients.”

“We fully believe the capacity and evidence of the need for expansion of home health providers,” Moorhead said.

An emphasis on home health–which is often cheaper for patients than other post-acute care options and allows patients to be where they want to be–began with the Affordable Care Act, she said, and data indicates that ensuring it is an option is in line with the Triple Aim and patient wishes.

According to June Simmons, president and CEO of Partners in Care Foundation, “social determinants of health are another key way to determine which patients can go to the least restrictive sites of post-acute care.”

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