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ADVANCE Outlook: OT

Quantifying the Value of OT

Published November 23, 2016 1:59 PM by Jon Bassett
Research continues to support the value -- both in patient outcomes and healthcare costs -- of providing occupational therapy services to specific patient groups.

An independent study published in September in Medical Care Research and Review found that "occupational therapy is the only spending category where additional hospital spending has a statistically significant association with lower re-admission rates" for the three health conditions studied: heart failure, pneumonia and acute myocardial infarction.

"The findings of this important study highlight just one of the many roles occupational therapy practitioners are playing in improving quality and reducing healthcare costs," said Frederick P. Somers, CEO of the American Occupational Therapy Association, in a press release. "Occupational therapy practitioners are proving to be an essential member of any inter-professional team successfully addressing the changing demands of the healthcare delivery system."

Researchers evaluated Medicare claims and cost data to examine the association between hospital spending for specific services and 30-day admission rates. Because OTs help identify patient support networks, assess cognition and mobility, determine home safety, help increase the intensity of inpatient rehabilitation and institute caregiver training, these professionals can remove barriers to independent function and help improve hospital re-admission rates without significantly increasing spending, the authors state.

At ADVANCE, we continue to highlight the essential role OT professionals play in the treatment of costly and catastrophic health conditions, from spinal cord injuries to TBI to stroke, which should assume a prominent role as healthcare spending moves to the foreground of policy debate. As the authors of the readmissions study point out, "Occupational therapy places a unique and immediate focus on patients' functional and social needs, which can be important drivers of readmission if left unaddressed."

Jonathan Bassett is editor of ADVANCE.

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