Thousands and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people are admitted to hospitals every year for one condition or another. The trick is, keeping people who have been to the hospital from needing to return again once they have left. Recent studies confirm that some kind of transitional care program to help people better understand how to care for themselves after leaving the hospital can reduce readmission at a later time.
The studies, of course, point to specific Medicare(for example), programs to assist people in learning how to take their medications and figure out how to get to a doctors office if needed. These things seem minimum at best, when looking at a ‘transitional lifestyle’ post hospital care.
What may be more important to look at than merely getting your medication doses right, is the lifestyle and eating habits of those who have spent time in the hospital. As much as people and even doctors would like to ignore it, the way one thinks, feels, eats and acts DOES affect health and whether or not we end up in the hospital, initially or repeatedly. Transitional care, to me, sounds like the perfect excuse for a training ground in educating people how to best take care of their bodies and minds. The question is – will this ‘transitional care’ contain the necessary elements in order to teach people these things, or will patients only be provided with the minimum in medical maintenance?
So far, at least out of the 13,000 Medicare patients who used transitional care between 2010 and 2011, 20 percent were readmission free compared with 12 percent of those who did not use transitional care. These numbers seem pretty low either way. Obviously some kind of post-hospital education is better than none, but we can do better. If people can take the time to be educated about eating nutritious foods, even mild exercise and positive mental attitudes post-hospital stays, we could see more than half of those who have been treated in the hospital re-claim their health and stay well.
The problem with the medical system today is that people largely feel disempowered. There is an over-riding belief that doctors know best and individuals are helpless in their own health management. This all stems from a lack of true education about how to care for ones own body.
Education could largely start in the school systems, reaching beyond the food pyramid and the National Institute of Fitness tests. People need to understand how to live a supportive, healthy lifestyle which encompasses their whole being – the mind, emotions and the physical body.
When we are able to assist people in seeing themselves as a whole person, where emotions, thoughts, food and actions effect their health, and educate them on how to empower themselves in these areas, then transitional health care- as they like to call it – will truly reduce readmission rates to the hospital and less folks will ever have to visit the halls of white jackets in the first place. Transitional health care, when really embodying such, in the truest sense of the word, can reduce hospital entry and readmission. Recent studies simply turn the light onto the subject.
Written by: Stasia Bliss