Colliers International, the real estate firm, recently concluded an in depth study on post acute care centers. Their focus was IRFs, or inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Their findings show a lot about the post acute care industry in the US, how it’s growing and what the trends are.
Post acute care centers growing
Hospitals are under tremendous pressure to get patients out as quickly as possible to free up beds for urgent care patients, but many people still need care once they’re released. This has led to the tremendous growth of post acute care facilities, such as Hudson View Center for Rehabilitation in Bergen County, New Jersey, to care for these patients. Patients are generally fully covered for their stays in a post acute facility, even though their acute care treatments are done. This has also led to an increase in the excellence of standards for these facilities; hospitals need to keep discharges patients healthy, because they face penalties from Medicare if patients are rehospitalized within a certain time frame. That makes them eager to ensure the best care for released patients, and they’re constructing a network of facilities that provide the best care.
The study points out that post acute care has become an essential component in healthcare services delivery, and the important role it plays is now a standard practice.
Keeping costs down
One of the attractions of the post acute care setting is the lower cost of care than that of an acute care setting. However, IRFs have to meet the challenge of providing excellent care while still maintaining viability. The IRF offers rehabilitation services that work to maintain the patient’s non-urgent status and help him progress toward outpatient care or full independence. Keeping the financial model robust is important for the facility’s administration, as it gains them a better relationship with hospitals and, of course, investors. The study noted that ““…the mandate to lower healthcare costs is industry-wide and IRFs are generally considered a lower cost of care setting which should help sustain their attraction to investors.”
A major part of the financial model is Medicare reimbursement, as a high percentage of their patients are part of the Medicare program.
The range of post acute are
There are levels of post acute care, starting with IRFs, the most acute inpatient setting. Next , there’s:
- Skilled nursing facilities, or SNFs, which can offer care care in both inpatient and outpatient settings
- Senior living, which comprises assisted living and hospice care
- Home care, which includes home health agencies, and
- General community services, such as senior recreation centers.
What’s happening at the IRF?
The main conditions being cared for at IRFs are related to stroke and other neurological conditions. Second are orthopedic problems. Their goal is to help patients progress to the point of being able to function independently or be taken care of at home. Patients in an IRF must require treatment 5 days a week, and Medicare will fund patients in an IRF setting if they one of 13 stated conditions. If patients fail to meet these criteria, they may still qualify for funding at a lower level of post acute care such as in a skilled nursing facility or home care, which costs less.