Hospitals are where sick people go to get better, right…? Actually, that’s only partly accurate – let me explain. For some patients, that isn’t the whole truth. For seniors in particular, the treatment they receive in an acute care hospital is often just the first step on the road to recovery. For 1.7m Medicare beneficiaries each year, the next step after being a hospital inpatient is a stay in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). Many others will be discharged directly to home, but will receive additional rehabilitation and help from a home health agency (HHA).
Unfortunately though, that next step of the rehabilitation journey doesn’t always go according to plan. Currently, 22.6% of Medicare patients discharged to a SNF are re-hospitalized. Likewise, 25.4% of patients are hospitalized during an episode of home health care. And those hospitalizations don’t just come loaded with an excessive financial cost to Medicare. They take a toll on the patient’s health too. Seniors rapidly lose muscle mass and strength when bed-bound. Ultimately, that makes the road to full rehabilitation steeper, and less likely that the patient will reach the top.