Patient referrals to post-acute care, including home health, have increased by 33%. However, despite this, the acceptance rate has decreased by 15%. In addition to the existing staffing shortage, what has been destabilizing the referral chain is that patients being discharged from hospitals tend to be higher acuity, according to a new report, which presents data from 1,000 hospitals and 130,000 post-acute care providers about the COVID-19 impact on care delivery.
Moreover, these higher acuity patients have a greater need for services post-discharge, which makes the required care more complex. As a result, there has been an 11% increase in the average comorbidity score. Common comorbidities include congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, neurological disorders, and diabetes..
Hurdles in Referral Acceptance
The low acceptance rate is caused by higher acuity patients, staffing shortages, an increase in patient demand, and capacity restraints.
On top of hospitals struggling to find home health providers that are able to accept patients On top of hospitals struggling to find home health providers that are able to accept patients promptly, ensuring a timely start of care remains an issue even when the patient is already admitted to home health. These issues can mean an extended stay in the hospital for patients. Since 2019, there has been a spike in the average hospital stay duration by 8%. This is not good, considering that the risk of hospital readmission rises by 3% each day after a patient is discharged and is not seen by a home health provider, according to the report.
Rising to the Challenge
These obstacles are an opportunity to rise to the challenge to provide the appropriate care that patients need. Having valuable insights is critical to ensuring optimal patient outcomes and business success.
Big players in the industry have already been positioning themselves to take on these more complex patients in recent years. The key is to meet patient needs in a timely manner without adding more administrative burdens. This can be achieved by optimizing available resources and getting the right support solutions. Outsourcing, for one, can help agencies accept more patient referrals and maximize clinical staffing for patient care by covering concurrently rising back-office functions.
* The data and findings mentioned in this article are part of a new report from CarePort, a WellSky company.