Jul 17th 2020

The Benefits and Challenges of New Post-Acute Care Services for Homebound Seniors

The post-acute care continuum is more crowded than it's ever been, which brings both opportunities and obstacles. An aging population, rising healthcare costs, and the prevalence of chronic diseases are among the contributors to the industry's tremendous growth, a trajectory that is projected to continue from now until at least 2024.

The surge in demand has prompted expansion of the post-acute care continuum: hospice care, skilled nursing facilities, and community-based services like care coordination and medical transportation are now included. This means seniors can receive the care they need outside the four walls of a hospital. New models of home care are emerging as well, with technological advances supporting innovation in service delivery and quality control.

In this new environment, the main goals of post-acute care management are:

·       Promote the functional recovery of older adults.

·       Prevent unnecessary hospital readmission.

·       Avoid premature admission to a long-term care facility.

Research also supports post-acute care as a cost-effective service model. Given the current challenges of healthcare delivery, the expansion of a home-based post-acute care continuum could not be more timely.

 

The Benefits of a Post-Acute Care Provider Network

 

Nearly 40 percent of Medicare beneficiaries receive post-acute care services after being discharged from the hospital. The price tag? Over $60 billion in 2015 alone.

That's why building a post-acute care preferred provider network is vital both for cost management and the success of value-based purchasing programs, says Mary Kay Thalken, an RN, MBA, and Chief Clinical Officer of Ensocare in Omaha, NE.

She believes the following components are critical to improving post-acute care coordination and controlling costs more effectively:

·       Smoother care transitions

·       Adverse event prevention

·       A streamlined, automated referral process

·       Performance measurements, tracking, and analytics 

·       A narrower network scope

·       Easy access to digital care technology for patients and families

While all of these components make sense, implementation is time-consuming and labor-heavy — and adoption presents a steep learning curve for patients and providers. The addition of multiple post-acute care settings further complicates delivery.

 

Growing Pains for the Post-Acute Care Continuum

 

Is the industry prepared for this surge? Challenges already include a limited labor supply and changes in post-acute care reimbursement policies. When COVID-19 patients are discharged from hospital to home, these challenges become even more complex.

Effective care coordination is the key to success among new post-acute care examples such as medical/community-based transportation services. Coordinating these moving parts and people (patients, caregivers, and providers) is complicated and time-consuming even in a stable, robust market.

To help patients and their families navigate this continuum and transition process effectively, finding the most appropriate post-acute care setting is of primary importance. 

eviCore's post-acute care solution applies evidence-based guidelines to determine the appropriate level and site of post-acute care—with the goal of transitioning the patient home in a timely manner. The solution supports the patient throughout the entire post-acute care continuum in a patient-centered way.

For the majority of older patients and their families, staying home has always been their top priority. What about preventing readmission and unnecessary hospitalizations? These are always top of mind for providers. 

Both patients and providers benefit from an expanded post-acute care continuum and streamlined care coordination. The challenges will always be there, but the benefits are worth it, especially in today's rapidly changing healthcare environment.