WHA Presents to Governor’s Task Force Work Group on Family Caregiving

May 14, 2020

Last week, WHA staff were joined by Diane Ehn, Froedtert Health’s Vice President of Post-Acute Care, to present to one of two workgroups that report to the Governor's Task Force on Caregiving. As the workgroup has considered proposals that would unnecessarily add duplicative and confusing regulations at the state level around discharge planning, WHA was asked by lawmakers involved with the work group to present on current hospital practices and corresponding outcomes.

HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores clearly show Wisconsin hospitals continue to lead the country, with Wisconsin still ranking as the top state in the country for both discharge planning and care transition metrics, according to WHA’s Chief Quality Officer Beth Dibbert. These metrics take into account patient preferences when planning post-acute care and the patient’s ability to manage their own health needs, including prescribed medications. Dibbert discussed how WHA’s nationally-recognized quality improvement team supports and bolsters the already robust quality improvement work occurring in hospitals related to readmissions and patient and family engagement.

Laura Rose, WHA’s vice president of policy development, described WHA-led initiatives to improve care for patients transitioning out of the hospital. Hospitals identify and work with a patient’s caregiver to ease the patient’s transition from the hospital. But hospitals must also help patients who either do not wish to have a family caregiver involved in their care or a family caregiver who is not engaged as they need to be in their relative’s care plan.

Some of the proactive steps WHA has taken to strengthen public policy include advocating for an expansion of Medicaid telehealth covered services that removes unnecessary regulations for behavioral health providers and provides Medicaid reimbursement for in-home post-acute care and remote patient monitoring. WHA is also working with DHS on improving BadgerCare HMO care management for discharged hospital patients. These initiatives are among those identified by WHA’s Post-Acute Work Group, which was established in 2017 and continues to support the work of Wisconsin hospitals, who are leaders in successful care transitions and patient education for discharge planning.

Froedtert’s Ehn provided a comprehensive example of the critical community considerations to develop a successful approach for patient success post-discharge. Diane described how Froedtert involves patient caregivers throughout the patient’s hospital stay, and discussed how successful discharge planning, care transitioning and community care depends on everyone being engaged in the success of that patient, including family caregivers and the patient’s managed care organization.

Ehn emphasized that this work isn’t unique to Froedtert – hospitals throughout the state are developing innovative approaches to discharge planning that are tailored to their own communities. Ehn also discussed how several waivers of existing regulations have helped Froedtert develop unique strategies to take care of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic and believes policymakers should consider making this regulatory relief permanent.

In the same vein, Ehn cautioned the workgroup that adding regulation can chill innovation in post-acute care transitions and discharge planning. She reiterated that successful discharge planning is not a one-size-fits-all approach and doesn’t lend itself to one-size-fits-all statutory or regulatory requirements.

For additional information on the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving, contact WHA’s Laura Rose.

This story originally appeared in the May 14, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter