A recent study suggests that occupational therapy was associated with lower 30-day hospital readmission rates for the three health conditions examined: heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction.

In the study, published in Medical Care Research and Review, researchers used Medicare claims and cost data to examine the association between hospital spending for specific services and 30-day admission rates for heart failure, pneumonia, and acute myocardial infarction.

The researchers evaluated 19 distinct spending categories (including occupational therapy) in 2,791 hospitals for the heart failure analysis, 2,818 hospitals for the pneumonia analysis, and 1,595 hospitals for the acute myocardial infarction analysis, according to a media release from the American Occupational Therapy Association.

The researchers included Andrew Rogers (Johns Hopkins University), Ge Bai (Johns Hopkins), Robert A. Levin (University of Maryland School of Medicine), and Gerard F. Anderson (Johns Hopkins).

In their analysis, they cite the following occupational therapy interventions that could play a role in reducing hospital readmissions: provide recommendations and training for caregivers; determine whether patients can safely live independently, or require further rehabilitation or nursing care; and address existing disabilities with assistive devices so patients can safely perform activities of daily living (e.g., using the bathroom, bathing, getting dressed, making a meal).

Additional interventions include: perform home safety assessments before discharge to suggest modifications; assess cognition and the ability to physically manipulate things like medication containers, and provide training when necessary; and work with physical therapists to increase the intensity of inpatient rehabilitation.

The researchers state in the release that occupational therapy is “one spending category that affects both the clinical and social determinants of health,” and note that, “investing in occupational therapy has the potential to improve care quality without significantly increasing overall hospital spending.”

In addition, they share that, “occupational therapy places a unique and immediate focus on patients’ functional and social needs, which can be important drivers of readmission if left unaddressed.”

[Source: American Occupational Therapy Association]