Reasons to Address Dementia when Exploring Readmission Penalties

Found an interesting article by Kevin Shrake entitled, “Hospital CFOs contemplate ‘play or pay’ with readmission rates.” CMS hospital readmission penalties are currently 1%, and will increase to 3% over the next two years. Much debate exists as to whether the penalties are small enough that hospitals will not be overly concerned with losing a “relatively minor” amount of reimbursement funding.

Given that our focus is on individuals with dementia and memory loss, we consider what this means for those with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cognitive impairment and/or memory loss. Providing quality care, and avoiding readmissions for those patients with dementia, is possible.
As Kevin explains, the focus of healthcare is – or should be – to provide quality care to those we serve. He provides a reminder of readmission management “Best Practice” checklist, which includes 2 important points when dealing with individuals with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

• Provision of critical information to patient care coordinators: basic information and demographics of a patient is not sufficient if that patient has any memory impairment at all. More important is to include information on degree of impairment, ability to understand and follow directions, etc.
• Identification of at risk population and enrollment into a specific plan of intervention: people with dementia are certainly at risk – and will require a specific plan of intervention. Conventional provision of care, and transitional care planning as it currently stands, alone will not suffice for this population.

Caring for a hospitalized individual with dementia – regardless of admitting diagnosis – requires a unique approach, and can seem complex. However, when a thoughtful, educated and deliberate process is used, quality of care will improve, and readmissions will be avoided.

Though hospitals may consider readmission penalties a low priority in the big picture, they will not be able to do so for long. As the baby boomer population increases, so too will those over 65 diagnosed with dementia. Folks with dementia suffer more adverse effects, falls, etc., while hospitalized and are more likely to be readmitted. If not an area of concern, penalties for readmissions will continue to grow and thus become a concern to hospitals.

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