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Importance of Inpatient Care Planning

Monday, January 4, 2021

In the face of uncertainty, making informed medical choices in advance can provide much-needed peace of mind. This is especially true when planning for future medical care (such as CPR or intubation), as these important choices can be incredibly challenging to make in the moment of a medical crisis.However, most people today fail to plan their medical care in advance. In fact, recent Medicare data shows that less than 3% of patients participate in advance care planning conversations with their doctor. Without this planning, individuals and families may find themselves unprepared during a healthcare emergency.

Inpatient care planning can help individuals and their loved ones navigate their healthcare choices in real-time during a medical emergency, providing the necessary education and support to make confident, empowered decisions. Inpatient provides care planning services to hospitalized members and their families, helping them make the right care decisions when it matters most.

Why is inpatient care planning important?

While traditional advance care planning (ACP) helps individuals and their families process theoretical health events in the future, inpatient care planning is designed to help participants make care decisions urgently during a healthcare crisis. This service is particularly valuable for families and caregivers, as most patients are unable to advocate for themselves during a serious medical event. In this case, families and caregivers often find themselves in an extremely difficult situation: in addition to the emotional stress of their loved one being acutely ill, families must handle the burden of deciding what care their loved one would want. Even worse, confusing medical jargon and complex hospital care models can impede their decision-making process, leading to delays in care that can negatively impact the wellbeing of everyone involved.

For example, after being admitted for a heart attack, a patient’s cardiologist may tell their loved ones that their heart function is improving. Then, just a few hours later, the patient’s urologist may say that their kidney function is worsening due to an underlying condition. These seemingly conflicting findings can confuse family members, making it difficult for them to know which treatment options to choose. As a result, they may delay making a choice, causing their loved one to spend more days in the ICU than they may have wanted.

In the above scenario, an inpatient care planning team would act as a neutral third-party to help educate and support the family in making these care decisions. The inpatient care planning facilitators would:

  • Explain the various treatment options available
  • Describe the benefits and drawbacks of each option
  • Empower the family to coordinate a course of action efficiently

This support can help reduce time spent in hospital, eliminate unnecessary care utilization and alleviate the emotional stress of decision-making for family members.

Current solutions for inpatient care planning

Because most patients do not arrive with advance care plans, some hospitals have employed inpatient palliative care teams to provide inpatient care planning. While these teams certainly address an unmet need in the current healthcare environment, they are not a perfect solution to the widespread lack of support for families and caregivers during healthcare emergencies for two key reasons:

  1. Inpatient palliative care teams are not universally available at every hospital
  2. There is no guarantee that these teams will be referred for each patient that needs them

Because of these shortcomings, some patients and families still miss out on vital care planning services when they need them most. Thankfully, new options have emerged to increase access to inpatient care planning services.

Inpatient care planning with Iris

At Iris, we’ve designed our Iris Inpatient solution to meet the needs of individuals, families and health plans during medical emergencies. Working through health plans, our trained facilitators provide high-quality, remote inpatient care planning services for members during healthcare crises. Iris Inpatient easily scales across your entire member population, providing universal access and support for members and their families without having to rely on hospital teams or internal resources.

In addition to improving the care experience for members and their families, Iris Inpatient helps health plans reduce unnecessary care utilization during medical emergencies, providing a more effective, value-driven care experience. If you are a health plan and would like to learn more about Iris Inpatient services, contact our team today.

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