Close up image of a caretaker helping older woman walk

Enhancing transparency and improving the planning process before hospital discharge are among recommendations in a new report on improving post-acute care transitions.

“Pathways to Progress on Difficult Decisions in Post-Acute Care” by the United Hospital Fund notes patients are often in the dark when choosing a nursing home.

“There is a lot on the line in decisions about post-acute care, where the wrong choice can carry devastating consequences — declining health, loss of independence and additional financial burdens,” said co-author Lynn Rogut, director of quality measurement and care transformation at the UHF’s Quality Institute. “The good news is that there is no shortage of ideas about how to improve decision support.”

Those six steps in the 25-page report include: (1) engaging patients and families in discharge planning for post-acute care; (2) improving the planning process before departing from a hospital; (3) bridging silos to allow for more informed decision-making; (4) addressing regulatory and payment policy barriers to planning for PAC; (5) enhancing transparency and public information for the public; and (6) increasing awareness about nursing homes and other post-acute providers.

The nonprofit, New York-based UHF’s series of reports were based on a year-long study of post-hospital care, which included interviews with patients, policymakers, and frontline staffers at both nursing homes and hospitals. Two previous installments were released in January.

UHF experts noted that about one in five U.S. hospital patients require care after they’re discharged.