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Traditional Care to Transitional Care: Marketing the Transition

Transitional Care has steadily grown in popularity in recent years as a more cost efficient and effective means of post-hospital recovery, rehabilitation, and ultimately back home.

With several studies indicating significant financial savings and health improvement in participants of Transitional Care, now’s the time to learn more about what Transitional Care means for you and your patients and how you can effectively market Transitional Care.

Throughout this article we will define Transitional Care, examine the risks and benefits, and offer suggestions for effectively marketing Transitional Care for your respective health facility.

Transitional Care and its Benefactors
Transitional Care is specialized treatment of a patient to prepare them for the next phase of their recovery while not confining them to a traditional hospital bed. Typical Transitional Care units are dedicated to equipping the patient with the physical, mental, and emotional skills necessary to better transition into the next phase of their recovery.

Typical patients that are targeted for Transitional Care often include patients recovering from a stroke, injury, or surgery. These patients need additional physical, occupational or speech therapies, nursing, nutritional or emotional interventions prior to being able to return home or to a new lesser care environment.

Benefits of Transitional Care
While beneficial to hospitals, properly executed Transitional Care offers two significant rewards for patients – it is more cost efficient and ultimately a more effective way of transitioning patients to the next phase of their recovery.

According to Mary D. Naylor (PhD, RN, FAAN) in her article, “What is Transitional Care and Why Does it Matter to the Nation?” the National Institute of Nursing Research recently funded a controlled trial in which the Transitional Care model “demonstrated savings of nearly $5,000 in total care costs per patient to Medicare and significant reductions in readmission rates up to one year after hospital discharge compared to routine follow-up care.”

There are quite a few studies and trials that have yielded similar results. Integrating supporting statistics into your marketing materials will add some legitimacy to your Transitional Care program – especially if your program is relatively new. If you have the resources, it may be worth investing some time to put together supporting statistical information for your specific health facility.

Transitional Care is more effective because it empowers healthcare facilities with an alternative solution to either keeping patients traditionally hospitalized and simply releasing patients. This also increases patient satisfaction as they are given the encouragement of progressing in their recovery while also not feeling abandoned by the medical institution.

Risks of Transitional Care
It is important to understand the risks of Transitional Care as these will undoubtedly be among the patients’ first questions. Effectively addressing these risks in your marketing efforts will help you preemptively alleviate most of these concerns.

The Risk: Poor Communication
The primary risk of Transitional Care is that it relies on effective and continuous communication between all disciplines involved as post acute recovery services are provided to older and inherently more complex patients.

Poor care transitions caused by ineffective communication can lead to increased emotional and physical stress for patients if the patient’s preferences are not communicated or carried out across disciplines and shifts. More importantly, ineffective communication can leave patients vulnerable to be over or under-treated. In turn, this can result in serious recovery complications and possibly even patient readmission to the acute hospital setting.

Effective communication is further challenged with the variety of specialists and practitioners who provide consultation and treatment to patients with complex health issues. These providers are not onsite which poses a risk for competing rather than complimenting collaborative treatment regimens.

The Solution: Clear and Vivid Reassurance
Make sure that your marketing materials emphasize the measures your facility has taken to ensure effective communication not only between the various health practitioners involved, but also between the institutions and the patients themselves. Even providing a simple call-out toward the end of your brochure or video that your facility or perhaps even their particular health practitioner will always be just a phone call away if the patient has any questions or concerns will do wonders to help ease their minds.

Organizational Considerations
The structure of Transitional Care units can vary drastically for institutions, both in terms of size and organization. However, at the heart of most Transitional Care models is the Transitional Care Nurse. These specialized nurses will have the responsibility of tackling the aforementioned risks head-on and will need to be actively involved to ensure that effective communication is maintained between all of the involved parties.

Marketing for Long-term Care Facilities that have Transitional Units
The key word and often concern for patients and their families is that your Transitional Care unit is, in fact, effective. Rather than thinking about this as an obstacle to overcome, let’s look at this as an unique opportunity to show off your facility. Begin tracking the readmission rates to hospital and the safe transitions to home of your Transitional Care units so that you are able to provide hard numbers supporting the success of Transitional Care for your facility specifically.

If previous statistics pertaining to your Transitional Care unit are unavailable, consider implementing a system that will begin tracking the readmission rates of your Transitional Care unit. Then you are able to provide hard numbers supporting the success of Transitional Care for your facility specifically in the future as Transitional Care units continue to grow in popularity.

Finally, while numbers are undoubtedly powerful, a personal and local success story highlighting the benefits of Transitional Care can give your Transitional Care unit a face and personality that prospective patients will associate with Transitional Care. While personal accounts will be helpful for any healthcare facility, they can be particularly powerful for young health centers that aren’t yet able to site significant data.

The great thing about marketing for Transitional Care units is that, when effectively employed, they work. There are numerous trials and studies readily available to show financial savings, improved readmission rates, and all of the inherent benefits therein that you can employ to show the success of Transitional Care units.

“Transitional Care After the Intensive Care Unit: Current Trends and Future Directions”. Wendy Chaboyer, RN, PhD, Heather James, RN, MN and Melissa Kendall, BSc, Grad Dip Psych, MHumSrv. http://ccn.aacnjournals.org/content/25/3/16.full

Coleman EA, Boult CE on behalf of the American Geriatrics Society Health Care Systems Committee. Improving the Quality of Transitional Care for Persons with Complex Care Needs. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2003;51(4):556-557. http://www.caretransitions.org/documents/Improving%20the%20quality%20-%20JAGS.pdf

“What is Transitional Care and Why Does It Matter to the Nation?” Mary D. Naylor, PhD, RN, FAAN. http://championnursing.org/blog/2009-07/what-transitional-care-and-why-does-it-matter-nation

Transitional Care Model. http://www.transitionalcare.info/Tool-1789.html