Minority home health care patients are rehospitalized at higher rates, study says
COLUMBIA - Minority populations receiving home health care after hospitalization may be at a greater risk of rehospitalization and emergency room (ER) use, a recent MU study found.
And Dr. Jo-Ana Chase, the assistant professor from MU who led the study, said the issue persists despite controlling for individual factors such as the patient's illness, gender, living arrangement, availability of a caregiver and other clinical factors.
"Despite controlling for a variety of factors, we could only really explain about 4 percent of the differences that we were seeing," Dr. Chase said.
The researchers analyzed data from a sample of adults, 65 and older, receiving Medicare in New York. They found that African-Americans were 45 percent more likely to have an ER visit than white patients; Hispanic patients were 34 percent more likely.
However, Dr. Chase said their study also showed that, despite the racial disparities, home health care is "still very beneficial for older adults transitioning from hospital to home," for all racial groups.
The Clinical Manager for Boone Home Health and Hospice, Julieanne Hagedorn, said high rehospitalization rates are a problem nationally, for all patients receiving home care, so Boone Home Health began tracking rehospitalized patients.
Those efforts coincided with Boone Home Health seeing its own rehospitalization rates drop from 19 percent to 10 percent. Hagedorn said that reduction stems from focus on the patient.
"It's about focusing on the entire patient, when you're in the home," Hagedorn said. "Little things can tip us off."
Hagedorn said patient compliance and surroundings often make providing home health services more difficult than facility care.
Dr. Chase said she and her colleagues are just beginning to assess the full need and scope of seniors relying on in-home health care.
"Currently we're interviewing caregivers of older adults from the same population... to better understand their levels of preparedness," Dr. Chase said.
She and her colleagues are continuing their research into home health care services.