Use of Home Health Services to Decrease Patient Re-Hospitalizations

By: | Tags: , , , , | Comments: 0 | November 7th, 2016

Home health care is becoming increasingly more important for  patients suffering from different diseases. Some of these include seniors and/or patients with chronic illnesses such as Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD). The numbers speak for themselves…One in three Americans is currently at risk for developing kidney disease…26 million American adults have kidney disease and don’t know it…10% of the population worldwide suffers from CKD and millions die each year because they do not have access to affordable medical treatment.

This is where home health services like DirectMed can help. With a medical and hospital system in the United States that is already overburdened, home health services can help reduce this burden and provide the right treatment at home for seniors and others with chronic diseases, including but not limited to CKD. The Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that about 8090 home healthcare agencies in the United States provide care for more than 2.4 million elderly and disabled people annually.

Unplanned hospital admissions are associated with complications, morbidity, patient and family stress, and increased costs. Not only is home health care a convenient alternative to hospitalization, it has also been noted that home health care significantly prevents repeated hospitalizations. Given the option, most patients and family members prefer treatment in the home environment..

Furthermore, hospitalizations account for nearly one-third of the total $2 trillion spent on healthcare in the United States. A substantial fraction of all hospitalizations are patients returning to the hospital soon after their previous stay. These re-hospitalizations are costly, potentially harmful, and often avoidable.

Studies suggest that patient re-hospitalizations can be significantly reduced by enhancing coaching, education and support for patient self-management. Use of the Medicare home health benefit by certain chronically ill patients within three months of hospital discharge, saved Medicare $1.71 billion in the 2005-2006 period, with an estimated additional savings of $1.77 billion likely, if all similar patients had accessed the service during that time.

Further, the rate of re-hospitalization among all home health care patients in the study was significantly lower, with 24,000 fewer readmissions, as compared to those using other post-acute care services. This research study shows that home health care not only benefits patients, but also saves taxpayers billions of dollars by avoiding more costly institutional settings and preventing many patients from being re-hospitalized.

While there are several ways that one can reduce costly re-hospitalizations, such as improved medication management, continuing patient education, and regular follow-ups, the two most important strategies are provision of home health care services and real-time monitoring in the home.

Having a home health nurse to do a full home health care evaluation of need and develop a care plan is the best way of keeping a patient from being re-hospitalized. A doctor and his/her clinical staff can do an excellent job explaining to a patient how to care for themselves, but often that plan is not followed once the patient goes home. This is evident in the high amount of avoidable re-hospitalizations. Nothing beats a medically trained nurse and/or therapists working one on one with the patient in their home. They can help with managing medications, see what the patient is eating and help them make better nutritional decisions, monitor for any health related changes before they become problematic, help with therapy exercises, help prevent infections, etc..

So, now you know how important home health care is in preventing hospital readmissions for seniors and patients with various chronic diseases, such as CKD. With the home health care industry poised on the cusp of change and growth, the increasing availability of home health care will help patients manage their medical conditions better and more promptly.

For more information on how DirectMed Health Services to help care for your loved ones at home, contact Ken Banks, President and CEO of DirectMed at 312-642-5500 or at info@dmhservices.com

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