Those who have followed the changes in health care brought on by the Patient Portability and Affordable Care Act (ACA), know that there is an emphasis on reducing the rates of readmission to hospitals. Recently, Kaiser Health News published a report about a study of these rates countrywide.
Of interest to us is the readmission rate in Rhode Island. Four hospitals were identified as having rates higher than the national average while others were at or about at the national average. Click here for the story.
This begs a fundamental question: What exactly constitutes the health care required to tamp down the rates of readmission? Is it merely traditional medical services where all the providers of care are obvious and well known? Or is it something more, where non-medical resources, such as lawyers, social workers, and case managers, can be brought on as a part of the medical team to address the non-medical social determinants that impact health outcomes?
As the legal partner of the Rhode Island Medical-Legal Partnership, I assert that it’s the latter. Remediation of unhealthy conditions, such as unhealthy housing along with food and income insecurity can have a direct positive impact on health outcomes, which in turn can work to reduce some of the higher levels of hospital readmission rates.
In short, what that report shows and the ACA demands is that we think about health care in an entirely new and expansive way.