The Acute Care Continuum is the integration of urgent, emergent, inpatient and post-discharge care of patients with acute medical conditions.
“Every patient, every shift, every site.” This may sound like something Vince Lombardi would have said if he had worked in a hospital rather than on a football field; however, it is a message very appropriate for the Acute Care Continuum today.
The role of each individual along the care continuum has never been as important as it is now. With today’s emphasis on the transitions of care as patients move between departments, and with EMR connecting everyone in real time, each provider and staff member has the potential to make a substantial difference within the hospital ecosystem.
The first two feature the Acute Care Continuum’s role at the very center of admission decisions. Another item offers 44 benchmarks and strategies for readmission practices, while the fourth looks at health care reform from an historical perspective. And, finally, 60 Minutes ‘names names’ about a scandal: admitting patients regardless of their medical needs.
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In the wake of healthcare reform, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) created a transitions of care implementation and evaluation plan. The Joint Commission has created an entire transitions of care portal to guide healthcare organizations through the operational improvement process. It is rare to see big government so interested in the nitty-gritty of hospital management at this level of detail; but their interest reflects the degree of potential benefit in improving information gathering and sharing during the transitions of care.
HHS foresees the improvement of transitions of care, defined as the movement of patients between various healthcare settings, and predicts that in the future this will play a big role in improving patient safety and cost savings. HHS is clearly anticipating that many different hospital departments and physician specialties within the hospital will become ‘virtual business partners’ as patients segue from one area to another. Benefits that will accrue to all stakeholders from smoothing the movement of patients among departments include the increased sharing of risk, which, in turn, restrains costs; as well as a more dynamic system in which each service builds on the success of the others.
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