Reducing hospital admissions for elderly nursing home residents is a top priority in the healthcare industry considering the negative health effects that can accompany hospitalizations, along with the massive price tag they often bear, and a new program that’s in the works seeks to do just that.
Unnecessary hospital admissions amount to more than $4 billion in Medicare expenditures each year, so it’s in line with industry goals that Florida Atlantic University researchers are garnering both attention and grant money as they look for ways to reduce hospitalizations among nursing home residents, reports the Sun Sentinel.
FAU’s colleges of medicine and nursing this month were awarded $1.8 million from the National Institutes of Health to scientifically test if their innovative intervention program would save Medicare money as well as improve quality of care.
The program, called Implementing Interventions to Reduce Hospitalizations of Nursing Home Residents, or INTERACT, trains aides, nurses and others in how to identify health issues among residents early on and how to manage and document changes.
About 60 percent of the nation’s 1.6 million nursing home residents go to an emergency room each year, and 25 percent are admitted to a hospital, statistics show. Among those, long-term care experts say 28 to 40 percent of those hospital stays could have been avoided.
Increasing pressure on both nursing facilities and hospitals to reduce admissions, as a way to cut government spending, is a key driver behind the interest in INTERACT. The Affordable Care Act soon will require nursing homes to have quality assurance programs, and Medicare will reduce reimbursements for hospital readmissions.
A study of 25 nursing homes in three states that used INTERACT, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society last year, showed an overall 17 percent reduction in hospital admissions, with even higher rates for facilities rated the most dedicated to the program. Researchers estimated the results equaled about a $125,000 annual savings to Medicare per nursing home.
Rather than placing a knee-jerk emergency call to a hospital, the INTERACT program gives nursing home staffers tools to assess multiple risk factors and discuss possible outcomes, says the article, giving them a better indication of what may be the best course of action for a resident.
Read more at the Sun Sentinel.
Written by Alyssa Gerace