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Reducing risks and costs in the LTAC setting

By Mike Hodge, Director Business Development, Alternate Care Solutions, Dräger

Long term acute care (LTAC) facilities are increasingly challenged to care for higher acuity patients transferred from hospital intensive care units (ICU). The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend by driving a greater number of sicker patients into LTAC settings as hospitals reach ICU capacity.

How can LTAC facilities improve care quality and reduce patient safety risks among their high acuity patient populations to avoid reimbursement cuts and maintain revenue?

When selecting a medical equipment supplier partner, consider the following factors to help improve clinical and financial outcomes for your organization:

Specialized LTAC team

While acute care patients have the same care needs regardless of the setting, caring for critically ill patients is more challenging outside of the ICU. “Patients requiring care in long-term care facilities are disproportionately older and chronically ill, and they often enter long-term care after an acute hospitalization,” states the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).[1] 

That’s why administrators should look for a medical equipment supplier with a specialized team that has in-depth knowledge and experience specific to the LTAC space. Working with this team the LTAC administrator can design a customized workspace for peak efficiency and patient safety, while helping meet ongoing challenges of pay/reimbursement and patient case mix.

ICU quality equipment

When transitioning patients from costly and resource/space constrained ICUs to LTAC facilities, it is critical to maintain the same level of high acuity care to prevent complications and bounce-back readmissions to the hospital setting. According to the AHRQ, “Patients in long-term care settings may be particularly vulnerable to safety problems in the course of their care.”[2]

Select an equipment supplier that can provide ICU-quality diagnostic and therapeutic equipment that is adaptable to the LTAC environment. Proven critical-care-quality ventilators and patient monitors are particularly important given the needs of COVID-19 patients.

High quality disposable accessories and consumables

While medical supplies, such as IV tubing and wound dressing, patient monitoring interfaces and breathing circuits, are low cost items, “they can have major impact on care quality because they come into close and frequent contact with a high percentage of patients and are repeatedly replaced during the course of care.”[3]

Select a supplier that has accessories and consumables tested and validated for its device compatibility to support the best possible outcomes. Furthermore, disposable supplies eliminate the need for reprocessing and can help reduce the risk of cross-contamination and infection.

Service and support

When caring for critically ill patients who require continuous monitoring and ventilation, LTACs cannot risk care interruption. This is a particular challenge right now with COVID-19 patients exhausting respiratory care equipment and resources in many healthcare facilities. Select a medical equipment supplier that offers access to a 24x7 technical support team, based in the U.S., as well as a nationwide network of trained and experience field technicians to minimize downtime, ensure compliance and simplify device management. 

For more information on improving care and reducing costs in the LTAC setting, visit our LTAC webpage.

[1] Long-term Care and Patient Safety, AHRQ, https://psnet.ahrq.gov/primer/long-term-care-and-patient-safety

[2] Long-term Care and Patient Safety, AHRQ, https://psnet.ahrq.gov/primer/long-term-care-and-patient-safety

[3] Take aim at costs, quality and outcomes with high-quality medical supplies, Healthcare Purchasing News, May 25, 2020, https://www.hpnonline.com/surgical-critical-care/article/21138685/take-aim-at-costs-quality-and-outcomes-with-highquality-medical-supplies

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