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

April 2nd, 2013 | 2

HealthTweetI 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.

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Highlights of National Social Workers Month Christy Rakoczy

April 1st, 2013 | 0

SocialWorkerMonthLogoMarch was National Social Workers month, and this year’s theme was “Weaving Threads of Resilience and Advocacy.”  Across the United States, over 650,000 social workers reach out to people in need, and the profession continues to grow.  The official website for the month,  http://www.socialworkers.org/pressroom/swmonth/, includes 100 ways to promote social work.  Just because March is over doesn’t mean these ideas can’t be employed!

Some highlights of the month are below. 

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What to Know When Touring a Nursing Facility (INFOGRAPHIC) Ninette Tan

March 24th, 2013 | 0

Infogrphic.Preview_NursingTransitionWith Alzheimer’s services being the single most expensive post-acute care service in the U.S., families and care coordinators must take into consideration all domains of care unique to the elder resident with dementia or similar form of memory impairment. The responsibility of the nursing facilities recommended to families during the transition of continuing care is to have the most up-to-date knowledge of skill and practice a person-centered care approach similar to patient-centered care in the hospital.

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Clinician Resources to Promote Improved Hospital Discharge Processes Christy Rakoczy

March 7th, 2013 | 0

CareTransitionIn our fast-paced and ever changing world, medical personnel face the challenge of providing quality and personal care to a vast number of patients.  With the number of people being treated in hospitals increasing, it is very important for the discharge process to be as smooth and informative as possible.  Breakdowns in communication between facilities and caregivers during hospital discharge processes can cause serious and sometimes life-threatening situations, and in recent years several resources have been created to prevent such situations from occurring. 

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Understanding The HCAHPS Christy Rakoczy

February 22nd, 2013 | 0

HCAHPSHealth care is a hot topic, and hospitals must pay increasing attention to something called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS).  Pronounced H-Caps, this assessment is given to random eligible patients after they are discharged, and the patients’ responses are used to establish ratings for the hospitals.  These ratings are released to the public four times a year.

The HCAHPS Requirement

In 2002, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began working with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to create and test the survey before it went into public use.  Both agencies are in the federal Department of Health and Human Services. 

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Understanding and Improving Discharge: A Critical Factor in Reducing Potential For Readmission Christy Rakoczy

January 28th, 2013 | 0

Discharge_1Introduction.  Recent studies have shown that the discharge process can be very difficult.  The challenges of the complex process can easily lead to errors that lead to unnecessary re-hospitalization.  Preventing these both improves the patient’s outlook and prevents care facilities from receiving penalties associated with excessive readmissions.  This report takes a look at the discharge process and some of the data gathered over the last several years as a means of understanding and improving discharge.

The importance of effective discharge planning.  Studies from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality demonstrated that there were more than 39 million discharges in the United States in 1996.  Unplanned re-hospitalizations cost a whopping 17 and a half billion dollars, accounting for nearly a fifth of Medicare’s hospital payments between 2003 and 2004.  The end result, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Readmissions Reduction Program, is that in 2012, about two out of every three facilities received some sort of penalty for excessive readmissions.

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Senior Care Trends We’re Seeing in Southern California That You Should Know About Christy Rakoczy

January 15th, 2013 | 2

WhatToKnowAnti-psychotic medications are being abused in record numbers in nursing home settings as care providers dose patients to make them more docile and to make their behavior easier to control. This is an egregious form of senior abuse and a serious public health problem. In February 2012, the American Health Care Association announced a three-year plan for nursing homes and assisted living communities to improve their care, including reducing the use of off-label uses of antipsychotic medications.  Anyone interacting with senior patients, from hospital discharge planners to nursing home administrators, needs to be aware of the measures being taken. 

Progress on this issue is just one important trend in senior care. Consider both the anti-psychotic drugs issue as well as some other key trends that are important to senior care providers. 

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Senior Living Options: An In-Depth Look Amy Barlow

January 11th, 2013 | 0

SeniorCareTraditionally nursing home care was the only option for long-term senior care. It was not until the mid-1980s that different assisted living communities started to emerge in the United States. These communities were thought to be a shift from the institutional setting that were strict with regulations and gave patients and families few options of choice. These assisted living variations can offer very desirable features and have shown great patient satisfaction.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on your future living arrangements which can make the decision difficult. Below is information on many different senior living options to assist in your choice of which option is right for you. 

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Tips When Working With Seniors With Behavioral Problems Christy Rakoczy

January 10th, 2013 | 0

BehavioralProblemsWorking with behavioral problems among elderly patients can be exhausting.  Inexperienced caregivers sometimes respond poorly to such behavior, which can, in some cases, lead to verbal or even physical abuse.  Placement of these individuals is another matter all together – because they are so difficult to deal with, it is extremely difficult for discharge planners and social workers to find facilities that are able and willing to provide them the special care that they need.  Here are some practical tips we’ve found make the process of working with seniors with behavioral problems a bit easier.

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Hospitals Under the Microscope: Another Way to Check-Out Your Hospital Trudy Lieberman

January 9th, 2013 | 0

CFAHThe nation’s hospitals are now officially on notice that the federal government is looking closely at the kind of care they give—so closely that Medicare will be giving them a financial bonus or a penalty depending on the job they do. At the end of the year, Medicare announced that some 1,500 hospitals received bonuses while about 1,400 got payment reductions. For hospitals treating a lot of Medicare patients, that can mean big bucks for the bottom line, either way.

In the hope of spurring better care—and maybe reducing costs—the Affordable Care Act requires Medicare to judge the quality of care they deliver using measures of care for mostly heart and pneumonia patients, ratings of patient experience, and tracking if patients are readmitted after 30 days. Health experts regard these costly readmissions as preventable failures that occurred somewhere in the chain of care.

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