Hospital-based rehabilitation programs already expect to see a major influx of medically complex patients, including those with neurological conditions, in the coming decades.
However, COVID-19 and other chronic illnesses have further spurred this increase and caused an immediate rise in medically complex patients with multiple comorbidities.
For example, stroke prevalence is expected to rise 21% by 2030, and more than 1.2 million citizens are projected to have Parkinson’s disease.1,2 Moreover, patients experiencing prolonged symptoms of COVID-19 are expected to face additional medical complexities and disabilities.3
This leaves hospital leaders with a significant question: What can be done to care for the current and future medically complex patient population, especially in a hospital rehabilitation setting?
In this white paper, we’ll examine three areas that drive the greatest impact on treating medically complex patients:
- Clinical staff
- Tech innovation
- Patient and family member experience
1. Getting Your Staff Prepared Clinically
Many rehabilitation programs make the mistake of trying to serve this new medically complex patient population with the same staffing model that they have used in the past. Positions that are particularly important for treating medically complex patients are:
- Rehabilitation-Experienced Nurses
Rehabilitation-experienced nurses are trained to help patients with disabilities and chronic illnesses achieve maximum functional improvements. Additionally, recent research uncovered that individuals discharged after experiencing severe cases of COVID-19 significantly benefited from multi-disciplinary inpatient rehabilitation.4
- Speech and Language Pathologists
Speech and language pathologists play an important role in helping patients reach optimal functionality. For instance, receiving speech therapy early in the rehabilitation process is most effective at treating aphasia, which is present in up to 38% of stroke patients.5
- Clinical Liaisons and Certifications
Highly-trained clinical liaisons are needed to achieve optimal timing of rehabilitation entry. CARF and Joint Commission certifications improve the comprehensiveness of patient treatment and the range of patients a program may treat, as well as support improved program performance. On average, CARF accredited programs experience a 26% increase in annual patients served.6
- Infection Control Specialists
A dedicated infection control specialist or team can help obtain standards such as certifications set forth by federal programs and agencies, appropriate staffing, employee protection, patient safety and clinical expertise.
2. Adapting Through Tech Innovation
The usage of telehealth technology has rapidly increased since the beginning of COVID-19, with baby boomers accounting for the greatest portion of new users. There has been an overall increase of 155% - jumping from 9% pre-pandemic to 23%.7
By embracing new technologies, rehabilitation programs and their patients can achieve greater levels of success while increasing patient satisfaction.
Upgrades to Develop Best-in-Industry Brain Care
Technology is vital to developing leading rehabilitation programs that stand out within the market and deliver the best outcomes. Robotics are among the tools making the biggest impact for the rapidly changing patient population.
For instance, BIONIK InMotion robots physically guide brain injury patients through tasks by supporting their arms.8 As patients progress, the robots decrease their levels of physical support, thereby adapting to patient capabilities. BIONIK robots are effective for treating patients who have suffered strokes, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions.
3. Patient and Family Member Experience
In addition to clinical expertise, innovative technology and top-rated rehabilitation programing, support from hospital staff throughout a patient’s care journey is just as critical for patient outcomes and family involvement.
The Importance of Follow-Up Calls to Improve Outcomes
Working follow-up calls into standard discharge procedure can produce optimal outcomes for both patients and rehabilitation programs. For instance, brain injury patients who receive follow-up calls are more likely to consistently take medication. They are also more likely to attend clinic visits, which correlates with reduced readmission risk.1 Follow-up calls give patients and their caregivers the opportunity to ask questions and resolve any misunderstandings.
Supporting the Adult Child Caregiver
For many medically complex patients, an adult child takes on the role of caregiver. Initiatives to support the caregiver can help rehabilitation programs reduce readmissions and improve patient outcomes.
There are a variety of initiatives that can be used to support caregivers:9
- Transitional Support
- Educational Materials
- Case Managers
- Peer Support Groups
- Mobile App Technology
By developing rehabilitation-specific expertise around key areas including staffing, patient and caregiver experience and tech innovation, coupled with a flexible care model that allows a hospital to shift their services offered to benefit each patient’s needs,10 rehabilitation programs can reach new levels of success.
To learn how we can help your rehabilitation program adapt to the rapidly changing patient population, visit www.kindredrehab.com.
- Kristen M. Poston. Reducing Readmissions in Stroke patients. American Nurse Today. Dec 2018. https://www.americannursetoday.com/reducing-readmissions-in-strokepatients/
- C. Marras, J.C. Beck, et al. Prevalence of Parkinson’s disease across North America. npj Parkinson’s Disease. Jul 2018. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41531-018-0058-0
- Rita Rubin, M. (2020, October 13). As Their Numbers Grow, COVID-19 "Long Haulers" Stump Experts. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2771111
- Reading, D. (2021, January 16). Beneficial effects of multi-disciplinary rehabilitation in post-acute COVID-19 - an observational cohort study. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.docwirenews.com/abstracts/beneficial-effects-of-multi-disciplinary-rehabilitation-in-post-acute-covid-19-an-observational-cohort-study/
- Getting started in acute care hospitals. Retrieved February 08, 2021, from https://www.asha.org/slp/healthcare/start_acute_care/#:~:text=Speech%2Dlanguage%20pathologists%20in%20this,issues%2C%20and%20other%20medical%20complications.
- Accreditation Benefits. http://www.carf.org/Accreditation/ValueOfAccreditation/Benefits/
Kindred Hospital Rehabilitation Services works with more than 300 hospital-based programs nationwide to bring the best possible clinical and operational outcomes.