Top 5 tips to stay informed in post-acute care

Top 5 tips to stay informed in post-acute care

“Timing is crucial…. Part of creating a successful post-acute care plan is making sure that the patients understand it so they can actually follow it.”

ADL, LOS, SNF, and EMR are only a few of the many, many terms and acronyms used by clinicians during recovery. While the therapists and nurses are experts at what they do, patients are not. Just because we need medical assistance doesn’t mean we understand it.

Efficient recovery relies on cooperation from both the clinicians and the patients. However, as the patient, you might not understand exactly how to fulfill your end of the bargain.

Medical professionals generally give their patients directions for treatment, but there is a disconnect in the language being used. Terminology that clinicians use multiple times throughout their day is new to patient ears. According to Pitt, M.B., Hendrickson, M.A in the Journal of General Internal Medicine“While healthcare providers overwhelmingly agree that using plain language is essential for effective communication, it has been shown that we use terminology not understood by our patients as often as seventy times per encounter.” If they’re using terms that not all patients will fully understand, then the patients have less of a chance for full recovery. This is especially difficult for underrepresented social classes that lack access to frequent visits and the resources to not only stay informed, but know that they should be.

What is the point of a recovery plan that patients can’t follow?

In an article by Ann Geriatr Med Res. posted to the National Center for Biology Medicine, she explains, “Research found that as many as 25%–35% of older adults lose at least one activity of daily living (ADL) following 10–14 days of hospitalization for acute illness and 25% suffer cognitive functional decline after 10–14 days of hospitalization.” In addition, 20%–40% of such patients were in worse condition after being discharged. She also touches on the patients’ health beyond the physical recovery. After being discharged, 20%–25% of elderly patients experience emotional disturbances seen most prominently in forms of depression and anxiety. However, it is reported that the vast majority of discharged patients following acute care are sent home without further care. This is why post-acute care is vital for full recovery.

For the elderly, timing is crucial. They have a harder time recovering, and even once they heal, they’re still at a higher risk of being readmitted. The concept of post-acute care is essential to getting them healthy as soon as possible to prevent re-injury. Part of creating a successful post-acute care plan is making sure that the patients understand it so they can actually follow it accordingly so they won’t need to be re-hospitalized.

In the United States, over 60 billion dollars is used per year on post-acute care in Medicare. Scott E. Regenbogen et al. wrote an article published on HealthAffair about the spending on post-acute care. They discovered that despite the large cost, post-acute care “is growing at a faster rate than inpatient spending, may exceed spending on the acute hospitalization itself, and is the primary predictor of differences in overall episode costs.”

So if we are spending 60 billion dollars a year, why isn’t recovery efficient? There is a clear disconnect within the treatment process. Staying informed and involved are a few of the actions patients can take for successful recoveries.

We came up with these 5 tips to ensure efficient care:

1. have a trusted “team” of people

Taking on recovery alone is difficult. It can be hard to recognize when you need help, especially when you’re not in the full capacity to do so. Whether it be a family member, friend, caregiver or professional, make sure you have someone to confide in. You need to be able to trust someone else to validate your feelings and advocate on your behalf when you might not be in the right frame of mind to do so.

In his article, Pitt, M.B., Hendrickson, M.A also mentioned that sometimes patients will say they understand the directions of medical professionals even if they don’t. As a patient, you need to prioritize your health over the pride of not understanding a concept. Having others around you for support and guidance makes the process easier.

2. ask questions

This also means you need to be comfortable asking questions when you don’t understand. It is the job of the clinicians to best assist you with your recovery, but they aren’t mind readers. They choose to take on the responsibility to answer your questions and clarify confusion. Speak up for yourself – it’ll help others as well. If you have this question, most likely someone else already did or someday will. All questions are valid and will make recovery smoother.

3. give honest feedback

The same idea goes for feedback. If you’re feeling this way, you’re probably not alone. Every person is different, so some treatments might not work for you like it will for others. You might need alternative solutions based on your lifestyle or your medical history. Let your clinician know what’s working and what isn’t. Even if you don’t know the solution, have a conversation to see what can be done.

4. know where to find credible sources

We have all had those moments where something just doesn’t feel right. It’s not major enough to call your doctor, but it’s enough to get you browsing the internet for some information. It’s important to know what information is credible. Social media, stories from friends and something you saw on last week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy are most likely not going to give you accurate information.

Take a look at the website’s URL. Government (.gov), educational (.edu) and non-profit organizations (.org) are sites that will provide better information backed by reason and research. Make sure you’re looking at relevant information as well, not something that was posted a decade ago. If you’re worried about your medical information, just make sure that you’re on a protected browser, and if it doesn’t look safe or legitimate, then pass.

In the end though, it’s always a safe bet to call your clinician anyways. They’re there to answer your questions even if you feel like it’s not that important. It is.

5. digital health platforms that work in real time with direct communication

Sometimes calling your clinician can feel like such a hassle. Having to find their number, call their office, get put on hold, then to only be told that they will get back to you almost makes it not worth it. Especially if you just have a quick question or inquiry.

Digital health platforms solve this problem amongst many. Softwares like Theralytics allow you to directly message your therapist from home without having to call or set an appointment. You can log in, send a message and it will notify your therapist to respond. Simple!

Even better though – Theralytics displays your treatment pathway with task lists, timelines and projections. This means that, depending on your question, you might not even need to wait for an answer from your therapist. Having access to your plan might give you the answers you need. And if you still have questions about the pathway, you can easily ask your therapist through the messaging feature.

These are just five ways to improve your understanding of your care. The main idea is to get involved in your recovery and take initiative where you see fit. It’s your body, your health, and your life. Take control and give it the care you deserve. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Seeing a difference starts by making a difference.

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