As we approach The Independence Day or 4th of July Holiday it’s good to pause and remind ourselves of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. We are a patriotic country and we love our freedom to choose, in fact we believe it to be a right. In some countries, individuals see it as their patriotic duty to take responsibility for their health but that’s not necessarily the case in America.
It seems that all too often, our freedom to choose has resulted in obesity, sedentary lifestyles, smoking and substance abuse. It then becomes the responsibility of the healthcare system to try to correct years of abuse. The problem is, our healthcare system cannot repair a lifetime of abuse or lack of attention to our own health and wellbeing.
There is a shift in healthcare in the United States and the shift is from episodic based care to population health. The reason for the shift is a realization that one person’s freedom to live an undisciplined life gets paid for by someone else, or, it deprives someone of life-saving treatment and that just isn’t right. There is an increasing reality that people must be responsible for their own health and that the focus of our healthcare system should be health and not illness.
The best way to treat an illness is to prevent the illness all together. Hospitals are penalized for readmission and that’s why many hospitals like GVMH have a care transitions program. The program is designed to follow “high risk” patients when they are discharged to help the make sure the patients receive medications, schedule doctors appointments and do daily activities that will help them get better. The care transitions coordinator also provides the patient coaching and encouragement and helps the patient identify warning signs that their illness may be returning. These services are offered to patients with specific diagnosis, those that are most likely to end up being readmitted.
Beyond the penalty for readmission there’s an even more compelling reason hospitals are developing programs like GVMH’s Care Transitions Program – because it’s the right thing to do. Hospital stays are short and they are getting shorter all the time. Patients admitted to the hospital are sick and it’s difficult to learn how to manage a disease when you’re sick in a hospital bed. Knowledge is power especially when it comes to your health and extending hospital resources to a patient once they are discharged helps the patient to learn how to control their illness and more importantly manage their health.