Florida Senior Care Issues: Hospital Readmissions Rates
Health News Florida recently published an article on Florida Hospitals' readmissions rates based on the up-to-date numbers that have come out on Medicare's Hospital Compare website. The news for Florida is quite mixed, as the only state with two "A+" hospitals and two failing hospitals.
Readmissions rates are under heavy scrutiny from Medicare and other entities. There has been a lot of discussion around the problem of readmissions and possible solutions. A number of hospitals across the country have been involved in pilot programs to investigate solutions and resources for seniors and their families.
As this article points out, there are fairly complex issues behind the rates. For example, the "back and forth" that exists for patients who reside in an assisted living facility or nursing home, where the decision to return to the hospital may be made by staff when it could possibly be avoided. Then, there is also the balance between readmissions rates and mortality rates...raising the question, do we sacrifice safety over readmitting someone? And, readmissions vary greatly by condition as certain conditions are more difficult to control outside of the hospital environment and tend to have complications (though the readmissions rates are compared by different conditions).
The focus on readmissions rates will soon affect hospitals' bottom lines, as Medicare begins penalizing hospitals with higher than average rates starting October 1st. As mentioned, this is a complex issue and hospitals face real challenges overcoming the multiple factors that play in to these rates.
However, one underlying factor in this discussion is coordinated care. One of our most popular blog posts covers the issue of coordinated care for elders, including some of the challenges and solutions for elders and their families. Family and professional patient advocates can play a role in ensuring better coordination of care despite potential systematic gaps/problems. By asking the right questions, providing the right information and coordinating follow up closely, patients can experience better outcomes on an individual level.
Here are a few of our tips for you to ensure better coordinated care and improve health outcomes for yourself or a loved one:
- Know the questions to ask and anticipate possible concerns/needs. How to do this if you're not an expert? Grab a copy of our Dicharge Checklist to start and become a vigilant record keeper.
- Hire a patient advocate. This will help you take #1 to the next level, using the knowledge of an expert in the system so you know things like typical concerns for this condition/patient's situation and resources and creative solutions for after-care. A professional patient advocate also knows how to navigate the system, who to talk to about concerns and how to get answers. You can bring in a patient advocate for a crisis/one-time need or hire one to coordinate care long-term which is especially beneficial for individuals with chronic illnesses.
- Get to know your medical providers. As a family advocate, attend appointments with your loved one, find out who are the key contacts in the office/system and seek out key personnel during a hospital stay (nurse, attending physician, discharge planner/social worker) so they know you are involved, and explain the background, situation and concerns.
While hospitals continue to focus on improving their readmissions rates, it is vital for caregivers to take an active role in the care planning process. Your participation helps providers to provide more continuity and have a more holistic view of the patient.
Need help navigating your medical care? Want advice on the best options for Florida home health care after a hospital stay or rehabilitation options?
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