OpenPlacement Blog

Tweet the Change You Want to See: Health Care Reform on Twitter

I participated in a Symplur chat with the hashtag #SOSeniors held by Save Our Seniors (@SaveSeniors).  The discussion revolved heavily around allocation of government funding and support for long-term care programs as well as a call to action by patient advocates.

Symplur is a company dedicated to connecting individuals to the latest trends in healthcare and health technology. Their healthcare hashtag project has tackled the issue of complexity and variation in hashtags that may confuse people. Working on a unified hashtag topic grants access for providers and other interested parties to discuss in a shared space (conversing under the same hashtag). The diversity in participants is what draws a healthcare provider like myself to these chats. Patients and healthcare providers or organizations gather to discuss ways of reforming healthcare practice. A schedule of the current chats can be found here.

A growing topic addressed in healthcare chats is which long-term care programs should be supported for  providing cost-effective solutions to increase health care affordability for seniors.  Patient advocates play a pivotal role in reform both online and in the hospital. Family members of patients in the hospital may elect themselves as patient advocates because they were dissatisfied with the care their loved ones received and want to make a difference in future care. Online, family members or patients themselves can participate in senior-focused tweet chats similar to those found on Symplur. Participation gives them access to a number of resources from experts on long-term care as well as ways to become a patient advocate voice.

Provided is a summary of the SOSeniors chat log:

The article “National Council on Aging's (@NCOaging) Public Priorities for the 113th Congress" elaborates on a concern over how individuals can influence the decision of the 113th Congress to reauthorize the Older American's Act (OAA) and other housing programs for lower-income seniors. This is necessary for seniors whose income may be too high to qualify for Medicaid.

Another concern the chat addressed was whether or not congress will continue allowing charitable tax deductions, impacting quality of long-term care reform. The Charitable Giving Coalition (link provided by @mbtampa) emphasizes that reduction or elimination of tax deductions would discourage the incentive to donate and ultimately decrease payments that have aided nonprofit organizations. Many of the participants involved in the SOSeniors chat represent grassroots organizations that can benefit from donations in furthering their endeavor of improving quality of long-term care through educating the public and efforts to reform policy legislation.

Additionally, Obama's plan to cut healthcare costs was argued to be contradictory to the needs of the evolving senior skilled nursing facility (SNF) population. The CNN article states that he plans to reduce post-hospital payments but according to a chat participant, Alliance for QNHC (@Alliance4QNHC), there is an increase in admittance of short-term patients to nursing facilities who will require costly rehabilitative and acute care services.

With regard to admitting patients from acute care, observational status being detrimental to Medicaid patients was also included in the discussion. According to a brief( Briefs/Observation Stays.pdf) by the American Health Care Association- National Center for Assisted Living (@ahcancal), patients who are admitted to acute care under outpatient observational status are ineligible for Medicare coverage if admitted to a SNF because they do not meet the Medicare Part A requirement of being admitted as an inpatient for at least three days. As a result patients in nursing facilities often have to pay large sums out of pocket and may be transferred to a facility that does not adequately meet their needs.

Nurses should recognize efforts must be made to educate the public about observation status and be diligent in determining whether or not the patient status is appropriate to the diagnosis and long-term implications. For higher risk populations who have a number of conditions, this can make a difference in affordable and properly matched post-acute care.

If you're interested in becoming involved in other senior care related topics, another twitter chat that includes seniors and caregivers is held by @eldercarechat on every first and third Wednesday of each month at 1PM ET. The American Health Care Association- National Center for Assisted living (@ahcancal) urges people to sign up as a long-term care advocate if they would like to take action in reforming long-term care policy.

Participants in the chat who should also be recognized for taking a stand in long-term care reform:











A special thanks to @audvin for answering our questions about Symplur.  OpenPlacement does not necessarily agree with all the opinions stated but acknowledges them as great thinking points.

About the Author

Ninette Tan is an RN with a BSN from Samuel Merritt University. She has two years of experience working on a Rehabilitation floor at an Acute Care Hospital with a focus on discharge planning and follow-up. She values bridging technology and healthcare to create a better discharge process. As a clinical intern, Ninette helps create content for the Open Placement blog and co-manages the social media networks.