Health Care reform creates opportunities for innovative care
Washington, DC – July 20, 2010 – For 30 years, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), has supported the development of “model systems” that integrate acute and rehabilitative care for those with traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI). An expert panel associated with the model systems program recently released a report recommending that the “model system” approach be extended beyond a rehabilitation hospital, for those with SCI.
The report, which took more than a year of deliberation and research, demonstrates that “those with SCI live longer and face new health care challenges that accompany increasing longevity,” but also goes on to say that “the health care system fails to reflect these new challenges.” The report, led by an independent panel of researchers from across the U.S., including the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Washington, D.C., the University of Michigan, Boston University, the University of Alabama, University of Washington, University of Pittsburgh, MetroHealth Rehabilitation Institute of Ohio, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, also notes the high risk that individuals with SCI have for medical complications and the high rates of rehospitalization, especially in the early years after their SCI.
The group showed in the report that most complications are preventable through better, and more timely health care and more informed patient health behaviors.
“These have been long-standing issues,” says Gerben DeJong, PhD, Senior Fellow & Director of the Center for Post-acute Studies at NRH and chair of the panel. “We are witnessing, however, the convergence of three factors that are creating new opportunities.”
First, DeJong notes is the 30 years of experience that a handful of innovative primary care programs outside the SCI model system have had in addressing these needs in very select parts of the nation such as Boston, Madison, Wisconsin and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Second is the way in which the nation’s 14 SCI model system centers now work more collaboratively to solve problems that could not be solved by individual rehabilitation facilities.
Third, says DeJong, are “the enormous opportunities for experimentation and innovation” presented by new health care reform legislation. “This is an opportunity that should not be missed,” he added.
The report recommends that NIDRR and other federal agencies, such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality, take advantage of the health reform opportunity by entering into interagency agreements that will enable them to support and test innovative health care delivery pilot projects aimed at the health care needs of individuals such as those with SCI. The report concludes that NIDRR’s SCI model system program serves as a ready-made platform on which to promote advances in SCI health care.
About the panel and its report:
The panel, known as the Special Interest Group on SCI Model System Innovation, is comprised of 19 individuals representing nine of the nation’s 14 SCI model system centers located at academic health centers throughout the nation. The panel does not speak for the SCI model systems program or NIDRR.
The report, “Toward a Model System of Post-rehabilitative Health Care for Individuals with SCI,” can be found at the National Capital Spinal Injury Model System website.
National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) is a private, not-for-profit facility located in Northwest Washington, D.C. NRH’s services are designed specifically for the rehabilitation of individuals with disabling injuries and illnesses such as stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury and disease, arthritis, amputations, post-polio syndrome, chronic pain, back and neck pain, occupational injuries, cancer and cardiac disease that require medical rehabilitation, and other neurological and orthopedic conditions. NRH admits approximately 2,200 inpatients annually, has appeared on the “Best Hospitals” list in U.S. News & World Report for 16 consecutive years and is currently ranked among the top hospitals in medical rehabilitation in America. NRH has the only CARF accredited specialty program for both Spinal Cord Injury and Stroke in the region. In addition, NRH’s Spinal Cord Injury Program has been designated one of only 14 Model SCI Systems of care in the country by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), a part of the Department of Education. NRH is a proud member of MedStar Health.