New Study Reveals Preferences for Post-Acute Care at Home or in Facility-Based Settings

After a hospital stay, patients often rely on skilled nursing facilities or home health agencies for post-acute care. A new study published in the JAMA Health Forum examines patient preferences for post-acute care. The study reveals interesting information about the types of care preferred and how much patients are willing to pay for care.

How the Study Examines Post-Acute Care Preferences

JAMA-Network-Logo-768x211According to the study, two in five US hospital stays result in the patient needing rehabilitative care following release. To examine patient care preferences, participants age 45 and older were surveyed in 2022. A total of 1,555 adults completed the survey.

The study draws attention to the fact that while hospitalized patients often receive recommendations for an appropriate discharge setting, there is insufficient comparative data on skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies. As a result, patients often base their care decisions on “prior experiences, perceptions, preferences, and trade-offs concerning quality, cost, and location.”

The survey examines such preferences and financially-based decisions.

Understanding Post-Acute Care Setting Preferences

According to survey data, 59.8% of patients and 55.3% of caregivers preferred joint decision-making when it comes to post-acute care settings. Unanimously, respondents preferred home health care settings. If patients were to stay at a skilled nursing facility, there was also a strong preference for a private room compared to a shared room. When it comes to both skilled nursing and home health agencies, patients and caregivers were strongly averse to less than average care.

In many cases, patients and caregivers were willing to pay extra to ensure their care preferences were met. Respondents were willing to pay an average of an extra $51.81 per day for at-home care instead of staying in a shared room at a skilled nursing facility. They were also willing to pay an extra $24.44 per day for a private room at a skilled nursing facility instead of a shared room.

While caregivers and patients strongly preferred quality care, caregivers were more willing to pay for that care than the patients. Caregivers were willing to pay an average of $79.10 to avoid below-average skilled nursing facility care, while patients were willing to pay an average of $75.21. Caregivers were willing to pay $37.58 per day to avoid below-average home health agency care, while patients were willing to pay $46.65 per day.

The survey revealed that several socioeconomic factors affected that willingness to pay. Caregivers who had insecure jobs were willing to pay less, while caregivers with job security were willing to pay more. The same was true with unemployed caregivers; caregivers with steady employment were willing to pay more than unemployed caregivers. Additionally, caregivers who had personal experience with home health agencies were willing to pay the most to secure home health care instead of having a patient stay in a shared room at a skilled nursing facility.

Learnings for Skilled Nursing Facilities

The survey includes several valuable findings for skilled nursing facilities. While patients and caregivers may prefer home care, there’s also a strong preference for private rooms in skilled nursing facilities. It’s clear that patients and caregivers recognize and value quality care, and they’re willing to pay more to avoid subpar caregiving.

These results indicate several key areas that skilled nursing facilities can focus on with their marketing strategies. Highlighting the quality of care they provide is important, and showcasing the availability of private rooms can also be an important draw. The average figures highlighted in this study can also help facilities translate perceived value into what caregivers and patients are willing to pay for the benefits of quality care and a private room. These figures may make for more effective marketing that can help a community better tailor its post-acute care marketing messaging.

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