Six Important Trends in Post-Discharge Care
1. Consumer health devices and mobile and telehealth initiatives. These innovative methods are extending visibility into the community, in an effort to improve care and avoid costly readmissions. New mobile health monitoring is becoming a critical tool for avoiding adverse events, shortening duration of stays, and reducing hospital readmissions. Studies have shown that patients empowered by self-tracking make healthier choices while engaging more with their health care team. These technologies will continue to improve and to bring about market-based reforms.
2. Social Media. A boon in that it reinforces, reminds, and therefore can improve adherence to treatment. A curse in that advice from non-qualified individuals is proliferating and often is indistinguishable from the real McCoy.
3. New technologies and access to information will empower decision-making for patients. The healthcare industry continues to transition from a business-to-business to a business-to-customer model. With this, patients are encouraged to be more active participants in their health care. Patients will increasingly engage with their healthcare providers as they do in other areas of their lives such as retail shopping and banking. As such, patient feedback, satisfaction, and providers’ records on outcomes will play an increasingly prominent role in provider selection.
4. Providers will increasingly draw on patient population analysis and risk stratification. Healthcare providers increasingly understand the value of statistical analysis to understand trends and cause-and-effect relationships and to improve their patient population’s outcomes. With increased access to data and improved predictive methods, providers are more and more able to identify high-risk patients who offer the most actionable opportunities for clinical improvement, and thus more targeted outreach initiatives.
5. Reimbursement practices to providers will increasingly emphasize value. New regulatory emphasis on accountable care and integrated care models will focus attention on quality and outcomes more than the traditional fee-for-service model did.
6. Use of hospital readmission as an indicator of quality care. CMS’s “incentive” system, in which penalties play such a prominent role, has led to an extraordinary expansion of research on readmissions. Moreover, the amount of resources already invested in this system makes it unlikely that we’ll see a change in the near future, despite some eloquent calls for such change. It’s also worth noting that in segments of the health care industry such as home care, outcomes such as mortality, functional status, and quality of life may be more appropriate indicators of quality care than readmission is.