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Insights and Trends

ATI Advisory Supports Inpatient Rehab’s Vital Role in COVID-19 Recovery

A recent research article published by ATI Advisory further supports the fact that inpatient rehabilitation hospitals (IRFs) continue to produce superior outcomes for patient recovery from COVID-19 as well as other medical complexities.

The study highlights short-term acute care hospitals (STACHs) heavy reliance on IRFs to relieve capacity constraints, as well as admit and support patients with more intensive needs without disruption. Further, many STACHs relied on IRFs to help manage the increasingly critical caseload.

The overall value of IRFs during COVID-19 is showcased throughout ATI’s research as these facilities continue to take on an increasingly more critical and complex patient population (partially indicated by Case Mix Index, or CMI) and are seen as an essential next-step in a patient’s recovery journey as many of them often require rehabilitative care beyond the scope of services offered by their current care setting.

“Facility-based discharges in April and May 2020 support this development and show that IRFs – even more than LTAC hospitals – have become a more likely site of discharge versus last year as the combination of SNF closures and higher complexity patient populations have become more prevalent.”

Based on interview feedback and claims data, ATI Advisory researchers believe that “the increase in share of discharges to LTAC hospitals and IRFs was driven by a sicker patient population being admitted to the STACH (even non-COVID admissions)”, and that the increase was less likely reflective of patients going to higher levels, but simply because SNFs could not accept new admissions during the pandemic.

As licensed hospitals, LTAC hospitals and IRFs continue to be viewed as often the best and most appropriate care setting for the medically complex and critically ill patient population. This new research continues to highlight the critical role inpatient rehabilitation has played, and will continue to play in a patient’s care journey, even beyond COVID-19.

To learn more about ATI Advisory’s findings, click here.