3. Find out about follow-up care. This includes asking for written directions about cleaning and bandaging wounds, using special equipment, or doing any required exercises; finding out about follow-up visits to the hospital and making transportation arrangements for those visits; reviewing insurance to find out whether the cost of medicines and equipment needed for recovery will be covered; and determining whether home care services or a nursing home or assisted living center will be necessary for follow-up care.
JCAHO is joined in encouraging people to play an active role in planning their recovery by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Care Planner. Practitioners who want to share this advice with their patients or wish to direct their patients to the information can go to JCAHO’s Web site, www.jointcommission.org, to download a free Speak Up brochure.
Ideally, discharge planning should be a smooth process facilitated by a personal health record that is controlled by the patient and that provides ready access to all of the patient’s health data that have been compiled from all the patient’s healthcare providers. Such a record would be accessible anywhere and at any time, over a lifetime. This concept remains in its infancy, however. Until such time as communication with patients and among providers is more transparent and less prone to error, The Joint Commission will continue to seek methods to better address this important aspect of providing safe, effective care. TH
Dr. Jacott, special advisor for professional relations at JCAHO, is the organization’s liaison to SHM. He also reaches out to state and specialty physician societies, hospital medical staffs, and other professional organizations.