On June 6, WHA sponsored its first-ever post-acute care conference in Appleton. Thanks to a partnership with LeadingAge Wisconsin, Leading Choice Network and the Wisconsin Association for Home Health Care, the conference attracted over 200 participants representing the entire continuum of care.
“WHA has made a concerted and strategic effort to broaden our public policy agenda to reach beyond the walls of the hospital, across the health care system, and along and within the continuum of care,” said WHA President Eric Borgerding in opening conference remarks. “Working with key partners, like LeadingAge, Leading Choice Network and the Wisconsin Association of Home Health Care, we want to start collaborating to get our arms around the challenges presented in post-acute care, and then translate this knowledge into solutions. The audience today reflects an excellent balance of providers from both the acute and post-acute provider communities, and we could not be more pleased with the interest in this issue so in need of cohesive definition and attention.”
The conference was recommended by WHA’s Post-Acute Work Group and highlighted best practices for care transition planning and readmission reduction. Keynote speaker Eric Coleman, MD, MPH, kicked off the day.
Dr. Coleman, professor of geriatric medicine and head of the Division of Health Care Policy and Research at the University of Colorado Denver, is a national expert on care transitions. His talk focused on the importance of feedback loops: those between the hospital and post-acute providers; between patients and health care providers; and between family caregivers and health care providers.
Three panels representing the care continuum followed Coleman’s presentation:
- Hospital-Community Partnerships in Post-Acute Care: Maria Brenny-Fitzpatrick, UW Health, and Diane Schuh, Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center focused on hospital initiatives to improve care transitions, which include forming successful transitions of care coalitions in local communities. Other ideas included streamlining the exchange of vital information on a patient who is moving between care settings, and partnering with community programs like Meals on Wheels to ensure patients with congestive heart failure have access to a healthy diet after they leave the hospital.
- Improving Care Transitions in Partnerships with Senior Care Organizations: Nellie Johnson, Nellie Johnson and Associates, and Linda Joel, LindenGrove Communities talked about the need for providers to understand how patients and caregivers feel overwhelmed when they leave the hospital. They discussed how Medicare payment policies drive choices about post-acute care settings. They also commented on housing trends for senior citizens, who are increasingly choosing assisted living arrangements and how post-acute care is provided and managed in those settings.
- Partnering with Home Care to Improve Patient Outcomes: Coleen Schmidt, Horizon Home Care & Hospice; Lisa Kirker, SSM Health; and Cheryl Meyer, Marquardt Village, provided foundational information on the regulatory landscape for home health care. They followed with information on best practices to improve transitions of hospital patients to home, including visiting the patient before discharge and ensuring the patient has sufficient support soon after the patient arrives home.
The diversity of providers represented both on the panels and in the audience provided an opportunity for exchanging ideas and increasing understanding of the role that each type of provider plays in ensuring quality care for patients across the continuum.