BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (November 24, 2020)—The percentage of patients discharged from short-term acute care hospitals (STACH) to home health has risen from 11% in May 2019 to 19% one calendar year later, according to a new report from ATI Advisory.
The number of patients discharged from STACH to any post-acute setting declined from over 800,000 patients in May 2019 to 558,296 in May of 2020. The information comes from Medicare fee-for-service data and includes only Medicare Part A reimbursement for home health agencies.
The percentage of patients discharged to skilled nursing facilities (SNF) declined from 19% in May 2019 to 15% in May 2020.
The data indicates the greater role played by home health agencies during the COVID-19 public health emergency. It is not clear if this trend represents a permanent change or if it is mostly due to increased reliance on home health during the pandemic.
From January to May 2020, almost 105,000 COVID-19 patients were discharged from STACH, with 29% sent home without further care services, 25% sent to SNF and 8% sent to home health agencies.
Of the 3.21 million discharges from STACH from January through May 2020, 17% went to home health care.
Analysts believe we will know more about whether or not these changes are a long-term trend or a distortion created by the public health emergency. Further information, particularly after the end of the pandemic, should help determine if this will last longer or not.