United Hospital Fund (UHF) has released the first in a series of reports, Difficult Decisions About Post-Acute Care and Why They Matter, based on a year-long project to better understand why hospital discharge planning can fall short despite well-intentioned efforts by hospital staff. The report spotlights the many factors that can hinder informed decision-making by patients and their families and limit post-acute care choices.

Each year, approximately one in five hospital patients in the United States, including some 300,000 New Yorkers, require continued care following hospitalization, in rehabilitation centers, in nursing homes, at home, or in their communities. Yet too often, patients and their families do not have the critical information and support they need to carefully assess their options and make the best possible decisions.

The Difficult Decisions project, supported by New York State Health Foundation, combined inputs from patients and their families, health care providers, researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders with UHF’s own research to identify promising approaches for supporting decision-making at discharge. Future reports will focus on the experiences of patients and family caregivers and the perspectives of health care providers; they will also identify strategies and policy levers that could help make a difference.

The report can be downloaded from UHF’s website here.