Millions of dollars invested in rehabilitation technology and a greater focus on continuity of care helped vault a Northeast Pennsylvania rehab hospital to the top of its class.
Allied Rehab Hospital in Scranton is the top-ranked inpatient rehab facility among the 770-plus evaluated nationwide, according to a model compiled by Uniform Data System for Medical Rehabilitation, a nonprofit affiliated with the University at Buffalo.
The model evaluates discharge information, such as a patient’s functional independence measures, length of stay efficiency rates and the percentage of patients discharged back to acute care facilities. It also factors in the change in a patient’s independence measures, such as walking and eating, from arrival to departure.
More than 1,400 facilities worldwide subscribe to the nonprofit, which was created to develop a method to document the severity of patient disability and the outcomes of medical rehabilitation.
“We constantly focus on what we can do to get patients home a little sooner, or what we can do to make sure they don’t go back to the hospital,” said Robert Cole, Ph.D., vice president of systems improvement services at Allied Services Integrated Health System. “We’re investing in the best technology we can to assist patients in their progression.”
Since June 2012, Allied Services spent about $20 million across its system in rehabilitation technology and facility upgrades, including the implementation of an electronic health record system, said James Brogna, assistant vice president of advancement.
Among the hospital’s new technological features is the NeuroCom EquiTest, used to identify possible sensory, neurological or biomechanical impairments causing a patient’s balance problem.
Meanwhile, the hospital’s ZeroG system, another relatively new addition, helps patients stand and start to walk earlier in the rehabilitation. The system uses a ceiling-mounted harness system, which can vary the body-weight support and limit a patient’s walking speed, Mr. Brogna said.
“One of the biggest fears after someone comes in from a neurological condition is the fact that they are going to fall again,” he said. “You can allay that fear by using that device, because it will stop the patient before they fall.”
While the technology advancements have enhanced therapists’ efforts to shorten a patient’s length of stay, officials have also focused on monitoring patients after discharge. Officials make routine calls to make sure a patient arrived home, got a necessary prescription filled or started the scheduled out-patient training.
Hospital officials are discussing adding an initiative similar to a nurse navigator program, in which a nurse or therapist would regularly check on patients with a high risk of readmission, or those who might not be able to get to scheduled appointments, Dr. Cole said.
“It’s another quality angle we’re looking at to say, ‘Can we do a better job of shoring that up to make sure that we are able to advance the gains the patient has made in the rehab hospital,’â” he said. “We are trying to build a culture of continuous improvement.”