Addressing Medically Complex Patient Challenges
How LTACHs Help Health Systems Improve Care
and Reduce Cost

Recent data shows that patients admitted to short-term acute care hospitals (STACHs) have increasingly complicated medical conditions. This has led many hospitals to seek support from experienced management partners in the long-term acute care hospital (LTACH) space to help address the unique needs of this critical population. While medically complex and critically ill patients make up only 5% of the U.S. patient population, they account for 50% of healthcare spending, magnifying the need to properly identify the most efficient care delivery pathways for these patients.1 Further, COVID-19 patients have led to additional growth in both critically ill and medically complex populations.

Lack of access for high-acuity patients in the post-acute care setting often leads to discharge delays from STACHs. These delays can be detrimental for the patient and payors. Further, a transition to a lower-level of care such as a skilled nursing facility (SNF) that cannot provide physician-led acute care can lead to costly readmissions and an unfavorable patient experience. Treatment at an LTACH is often the most appropriate care setting for reducing avoidable delays in discharge and recovery.

Through this guide, you will learn four of the many distinctive benefits of LTACHs to the sickest and most vulnerable patient population. You will also learn how adding LTACH services to your health system’s care continuum or working with a management partner to optimize your current service can help reduce avoidable days, lower total cost of care and improve outcomes for the system overall.

MEDICALLY COMPLEX AND CRITICALLY ILL PATIENTS MAKE UP ONLY 5% OF THE U.S. PATIENT POPULATION BUT THEY ACCOUNT FOR 50% OF HEALTHCARE SPENDING



Experience Treating a Growing Medically Complex Patient Population

Experience Treating a Growing Medically Complex Patient Population

LTACHs are uniquely effective in treating medically complex patients – an already growing population, spurred even further due to the pandemic. Patients who benefit from LTACH care typically have had three or more days in the ICU or require mechanical ventilation.

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Cost Efficiency and Population Health Management

Cost Efficiency and Population Health Management

As part of their commitment to patient recovery, LTACHs work with families and healthcare providers to identify patients who would benefit from continued acute care, as well as with payor networks to ensure that these patients receive access to the most effective treatment for their diagnoses.

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Setting and Physician Staffing Designed for Highly Acute Patients

Setting and Physician Staffing Designed for Highly Acute Patients

LTACHs are licensed as acute care hospitals and are accredited by The Joint Commission. Patients at LTACHs benefit from onsite telemetry, diagnostic imaging and lab capabilities that reduce the need for outpatient services.

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Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Lasting Recovery

Comprehensive Rehabilitation for Lasting Recovery

Along with ICU-level treatment, LTACHs provide the rehabilitation care necessary for lasting patient recovery. The dangers of patient immobility are becoming clearer, including their link to rehospitalization rates. Studies show that keeping hospital patients in bed or in a chair can increase the likelihood of muscle atrophy, blood clots and wounds.5

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In summary, these four clinical benefits lead to improved patient access and care quality, reduced readmissions, shortened LOS and ultimately lower total costs for the health system.


While the benefits of having LTACHs within the health system’s care continuum are clear, developing and running a fully optimized LTACH can be challenging because of the complex patient population and highly regulated space. Partnership with an experienced LTACH operator can help ease the burden while still providing the many benefits to patients and the health system.

Kindred Healthcare: Recognized Expert in Specialty Hospital Care and Partnership

Kindred Healthcare partners with health systems to develop new or optimize existing LTACHs through hospital-within-a-hospital (HIH), contract management and joint-venture freestanding partnership opportunities. For more than 30 years, Kindred has worked with patients and health systems across the country to improve outcomes, reduce readmissions and help patients transition to home or a lower level of care.

Kindred delivers value-enhancing services to partner hospitals through:

  • History of successful joint-venture partnerships and management agreements. Kindred partners with more than 300 of the leading hospitals across the country in many different service lines. Additionally, Kindred offers flexible service line offerings such as LTACHs with acute rehabilitation units or behavioral health units.

  • Best-in-class clinical quality. Unique patients require unique care. Kindred’s long history of treating high-acuity patients has allowed Kindred to achieve industry-leading clinical performance that exceeds national averages and peer groups in key indicators. 

  • Longstanding LTACH-specific expertise. Kindred is able to help ensure compliance and appropriate utilization of LTACHs, increasing appropriate patient access, significantly reducing the risk of readmission and improving patient experience. Kindred helped pioneer the long-term acute care hospital model three decades ago through developing the first hospitals in the nation specialized in pulmonary treatment and continues to lead the nation in caring for medically complex patients.

  • Lower costs/value-based modeling. Kindred brings unparalleled operational efficiency and optimization. Further, Kindred has significant expertise in working with nationally-based health plans to ensure alignment with their goals to improve outcomes, reduce denials and lower overall cost of patient care.

  • The latest clinical innovation and technology. Kindred has a history of pursuing innovation with developments such as RehabTracker, Kindred’s proprietary patient engagement app and AfterCare, a Registered Nurse follow-up program. Both have resulted in improved patient outcomes, reduced cost of care and lower rehopsitalization rates.

For information about how your health system could benefit from an LTACH partnership with Kindred, visit KindredLTACHPartner.com.




To learn more about LTACH partnership options that will enhance your program’s success, contact Kindred Healthcare today.



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References
  1. Kaiser Family Foundation calculations using data from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), Household Component, 2010.
  2. Kahn, Jeremy M et al. “Long-term acute care hospital utilization after critical illness.” JAMA vol. 303,22: 2253-9. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.761, 2010
  3. ATI Advisory. “Role of LTAC Hospitals in COVID-19 Pandemic”, 2021
  4. Kindred Healthcare calculations using data from CMS MEDPAR, 2010
  5. Ward, Lisa. The Wall Street Journal. “Hospitals Increasingly Tell Patients to Get Up and Move”, 2017
  6. Ohtake PJ, Coffey Scott J, Hinman RS, et al. “Impairments, activity limitations and participation restrictions experienced in the first year following a critical illness: protocol for a systematic review.” BMJ Open;7:e013847. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013847, 2017
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