Home visits reduce readmission in elderly patients

Having a home health worker can reduce rates of readmission for older patients, according to a study conducted by the Indiana University Center for Aging Research and Regenstrief Institute. Findings were presented in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

To examine readmissions in elderly patients recovering at skilled nursing facilities (SNF), researchers evaluated readmission rates after visits by home health workers such as a nurse or physical therapist. The aim of the study was to showcase the importance of home health workers in the care continuum and outline the benefits.

"A hospital admission is a stressful event for an older adult, and when they go home, our duty is to ensure they have all the tools they need to successfully remain independent at home. We conducted this study of more than 1,500 community-dwelling older adults because patient characteristics and other factors that can help to prevent the older adult's return to the hospital are poorly understood," said IU Center for Aging Research and Regenstrief Institute investigator Jennifer Carnahan, MD, MPH, an IU School of Medicine assistant professor of medicine who led the study."

The study evaluated 1,500 elderly patients who had been discharged to a SNF and evaluated rates of readmission within 30 days. Results showed that home health visits within a week of discharge reduced rates of 30-day readmission while outpatient physician visits did not reduce readmission.

"We hope these findings will encourage policy makers to make home health care more widely available. An early home health visit may be a great way to improve the chances that the older adult won't need to come back to the hospital so soon," said study senior author, Alexia Torke, MD, associate director of the IU Center for Aging Research, Regenstrief Institute investigator and associate professor medicine at IU School of Medicine.