Rapid growth in the number of long-term care hospitals (LTCHs) and in Medicare’s spending highlights the need for more information about these facilities and the care beneficiaries receive from them. LTCHs’ role is to provide post-acute care to a small number of medically complex patients. The supply of LTCHs is a strong predictor of their use and that acute hospitals and skilled nursing facilities are the principal alternatives to LTCHs. In general, LTCH patients cost Medicare more than similar patients using alternative settings but that if LTCH care is targeted to patients with the highest severity, the cost is comparable. It is concluded that continued growth in LTCHs and the financial incentives presented by multiple Medicare prospective payment systems make a new, clearer definition of LTCH care imperative. Thus it is recommended that long-term care hospitals be defined by facility and patient criteria that ensure that patients admitted to these facilities are medically complex and have a good chance of improvement.
Long Term Care Hospitals (LTCHs) provide care to patients with medically complex problems. These complex diagnoses include, but are not limited to – Traumatic Brain Injury, conditions requiring prolonged mechanical ventilation, paralysis, very significant wound care, and other conditions resulting in organ failure – resulting in the patient requiring a hospital-level of care for an extended period.
To qualify as a Long-Term Care Hospital for Medicare payment, a facility must meet Medicare’s conditions of participation for acute care hospitals and have an average length of stay greater than 25 days for its Medicare patients. Medicare is a major payer for most LTCHs, accounting for about two-thirds of LTCH discharges.
The quality of patient care that long-term care hospitals provide to patients can vary from hospital to hospital. This dataset provides information on 425 hospitals across the nation and allows patients, family members, and healthcare providers to get a snapshot of the quality of care each hospital provides. The long-term care hospitals can be compared on the basis of important indicators of quality they provide to the patients. The information in this study:
– Helps the individuals to make more informed decisions about where they get their healthcare.
– Encourages long-term care hospitals to improve the quality of care they provide to patients.