The Acute Care Continuum is the integration of urgent, emergent, inpatient and post-discharge care of patients with acute medical conditions.
The importance of strong care transitions is finally receiving the attention it deserves thanks to Medicare's hospital readmissions reduction program. Avoidable readmissions are a serious problem that costs our healthcare system an estimated $17 billion a year in Medicare payments. And with some 20 percent of elderly patients returning to the hospital within 30 days of discharge, the physical, emotional and financial toll on this vulnerable population is high.
In his previous post, Jim Strafford of Healthcare Administrative Partners (HAP) introduced his series on how EDs can prepare to implement ICD-10 coding standards. In today's post, he talks about where EDs should be today in their progress toward implementation and shares some practical suggestions for getting started.
Ninety Percent of Providers say Healthcare Reform a "Step Forward"
Although politicians on the Hill and in state legislatures continue to debate the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act, one large constituent group believes the law is a "step forward": healthcare providers. A study conducted by Mortenson Construction surveyed 190 respondents. While most feel the law is not perfect (86 percent believe it needs major changes or revisions), nine in 10 believe it's a move in the right direction. Additionally, 71 percent believe it will improve quality and another 65 percent say it will cut costs. The results echo another survey of industry executives, of which a majority believes healthcare will improve by 2020.
Flu season hit hard here in California, targeting a younger population this year. Emergency departments are scrambling to cope with surges in patient volume. So it was no surprise when I arrived at a recent facility visit to find the ED running at full capacity. Every bed was occupied, three ambulances were waiting outside to offload, and 70 patients were crowded into the lobby.
What was heartening was watching the ED medical director and nursing director team up to deal with the surge. Both were checking in at each bedside around the unit, working seamlessly to support both nurses and physicians, troubleshoot issues and even render patient care. Despite the challenging circumstances, morale on the unit was high and it was clear that the patients were getting quality care.
How did this department rise so admirably to the challenge? I believe a key factor is the culture of collaboration that exists here between the medical and nursing teams.
On Jan. 16, 2014, ACEP released the latest version of its National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine. In the area of "Quality & Patient Safety Environment," the report gave our nation a grade of "C" (down from a "C+" in 2009). Two-thirds of this grade is based upon state systems criteria such as funding for emergency medical services (EMS), presence of a state-level EMS medical director and mandated reporting of adverse events. The remaining third of the quality grade is based on institution-level indicators, including such factors as use of computerized order entry and number of joint commission sentinel events.
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Congratulations on a job well done. Love your focus on the patient experience!
Great job. What a fantastic tool