ACA – Reducing Hospital Readmissions and Healing in Community

Dr. Carl Hammerschlag, a community psychiatrist, and pioneer in the practical applications of the new mind/body/spirit medicine recently spoke at the annual Trustee’s Conference of the MN Hospital Assn about how to keep people out of hospitals, provide better healthcare and inspire people to become the principal agents in their own healing. The Affordable Care Act represents a paradigm shift in healthcare delivery. As a culture we are moving from an interventional model of care to one based on prediction and prevention.

Among the many changes will be an attempt to reduce hospital readmission rates. Section 3025 of the Affordable Care Act establishes a hospital readmission reduction program that will penalize hospitals for readmissions within days and weeks after discharge.

Nearly one in five hospitalized Medicare patients returns to the hospital within 30 days. Most of them returned NOT because their previous illnesses flared up, rather they came in with new problems that in many cases were caused by the trauma of hospitalization. Dr. Harlan Krumholz, at the Yale Medical School, calls this “post-hospital syndrome” (JAMA.30:3, Jan.23, 2013) says patients “come into the hospital with one thing, but they leave with another”. It’s not because of bad hospital care; patients often take painkillers and other medications that can leave them confused (especially in unfamiliar surroundings). Extended bed rest can weaken a person’s muscles; and the chronic interruptions can lead to sleep deprivation.

These are challenging and exciting times; instead of discharging patients with prescriptions and directions, hospitals will create collaborative teams that heal in the community. Hospitals can become catalysts in making the cultural shift by integrating home health care, ambulatory care, social services, integrative health care, and volunteers.

Invite Dr. Hammerschlag to your next meeting to discuss the implications of the Affordable Care Act and the future of medicine in America.