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The care delivery experience of hospitalized patients with complex chronic disease

By Kerry Kuluski

What is important to individuals with complex chronic conditions when receiving care in a hospital setting? We recently published a paper in the journal Health Expectations [1] on the care delivery experiences of 116 inpatients at a complex continuing care/rehabilitation hospital in Toronto, Canada. Patients had an average of 5 morbidities and several illness symptoms including activity of daily living impairments, physical pain and depressive symptoms. Patients reported what kind of care they wanted delivered as well as how they wanted their care delivered. The findings speak to the importance of having a comprehensive assessment with less redundancy, support for transitions into and out of the hospital as well as greater attention to mental health during the hospital stay. On the staffing side, quicker response times, ongoing patient–provider communication and consistency between providers and across care units were highlighted. The patients noted the importance of feeling like a person, not a “knee replacement,” shedding light on the relational aspect of every care transaction. The study has generated a body of evidence on the important components of care delivery from the perspectives of a diverse group of chronically ill individuals who have spent a considerable amount of time in the health-care system. Moving forward, exploration around the appropriate funding models, skill mix and in-hospital processes (e.g., admission and discharge) are needed to move the evidence into changed practice. The findings can serve as a framework for designing patient centered hospital care for complex patient populations.

[1] Kuluski K, Hoang SN, Schaink AK, et al. The care delivery experience of hospitalized patients with complex chronic disease. Health Expectations. May 27 2013.

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