Discharge proposal could improve patients' moves to SNFs, new study says

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Many patients received a list of facilities.
Many patients received a list of facilities.

 

Many hospital patients don't receive quality information on skilled nursing facilities prior to their discharge, often times choosing a facility solely based on location, a new study shows.

Researchers led by RTI International in Massachusetts interviewed nearly 100 nursing home residents, along with a group of almost 140 staff members from hospitals and nursing facilities, to determine how patients picked their facility.

Their findings, published online this week in the August issue of Health Affairs, showed that the majority of patients surveyed received a list of area skilled nursing facilities prior to discharge. Staff members reported they thought patient choice regulations forbade them from sharing quality data with patients.

"They're pretty much just given a list of the skilled nursing facilities in the city and expected to pick among them on their own without information about where they could even get that information," lead author Denise Tyler, Ph.D., told Reuters in a story published Monday.

Only four hospital patients said they received information on the quality of skilled nursing facilities, or even where to find the publicly available information. Tyler said that while adhering to patient choice rules is important, many hospitals had opted to take an “extreme view” of those laws.

“Our take on it is that it's still possible to provide people with choice, but wouldn't it be great if they could make an informed choice on information that currently exists?"

Researchers also noted in their study that proposed changes to hospitals' discharge procedures, as well as more flexibility in interpreting patient choice regulations, could remedy the lack of quality information given to patients and allow hospitals to refer patients to more high-quality nursing homes.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' proposal to put more scrutiny on hospitals' discharge procedures was introduced in late 2015. The proposal's reginfo.gov page currently shows it slated for final action in November 2018.

A similar study into patients' feelings about their skilled nursing facility decisions was published last month in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.