Readmissions and Dementia – Why Wait?

One sure think about healthcare – it is sure to change. While CMS is currently focusing on hospital readmission penalties for 3 diagnoses, we know additional diagnoses will be identified in the future. And while we know the penalties will increase gradually to 3% over the next two years, these rates may increase as well.

The purpose of this effort is to improve the quality of healthcare provided in our country. And while a great number of our population suffer from cardiac issues and diabetes, the number of people diagnosed with memory loss, cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease is increasing at an alarming rate.

This increase in dementia should be of great concern to those stakeholders in healthcare, including hospitals and physicians, as well as managed care, insurance, and accountable care organizations. Many individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease will suffer from the 3 diagnostic areas of focus and will be hospitalized. Those with dementia are at greater risk for readmission.

Yes, healthcare providers are focusing on the identified diagnoses. But how many acknowledge the role that cognitive impairment will play in success of this new quality initiative? Much can be done to improve the quality care this special population will require – but it requires a distinct, specific program for individualized care provided by educated and specially-trained staff members.

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