In the world of clinical research, it seems like there are a lot of what I’ll call “no duh” health findings. We all know about these, but I’ll give you a few examples, based on some recent McKnight’s Clinical Daily headlines (great pub, by the way):
Headline: More exercise, healthy eating can prevent type 2 diabetes in older adults, study finds
Snarky comment: Stop the presses! Obesity is linked to type 2 diabetes!
Headline: Socioeconomic disadvantage raises risk of sarcopenia, data study finds
Snarky comment: You mean if you don’t have good nutrition, you’ll have muscle loss? Mind-blowing.
And my favorite of late …
Headline: Sicker end-of-life patients need more care, study finds
Snarky comment: Come on now, do we really have to tell people how the dying process happens?
Now, I am by no means criticizing the writers of the stories (yours truly wrote the second one) or the researchers. Heck, we are so lucky to have people who use science to seek knowledge and answers. Every unbiased study — no matter how obvious the conclusions may seem to be — provides insight into disease processes and furthers our understanding of illness.
But sometimes it seems that if we just obeyed the laws of common sense we could eliminate a lot of the research and actually be healthier. Which brings me to research particularly relevant to home care — about people’s discharge experiences from the hospital or skilled nursing facility to home.
The study examined 1,257 people in the sample of various ages and races. It assessed social determinants of health, including the following: patient concerns with lack of transportation, affording prescriptions, use of medical equipment, affording doctor visits and copayments, meeting basic needs, and getting help at home.
The conclusion of the study, which appeared earlier this month in JAMA Network: “An examination of patient discharge experiences from a hospital or SNF identified inconsistencies in care transition processes, social determinants of health issues needing to be addressed after discharge, and racial disparities between patients who attend follow-up appointments. Physicians should be aware of these findings and their consequences for patient experiences.”
And we wonder why people rebound back to the hospital. The study’s findings struck me as a sad statement about the state of affairs. If we can’t get people’s transitions to home right — making sure they have their basic needs met — how will we ever get healthcare, much less value-based care, right?
I don’t think you need a Ph.D. to answer that question.
Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.