Countdown to the IMPACT Act – New Discharge Planning Requirements

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed a revision of the discharge planning requirements that healthcare organizations must meet to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. This requirement would affect not only acute care hospitals, but also long-term care hospitals (LTCHs), inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs), critical access hospitals (CAHs), and home health agencies (HHAs).

The proposed changes would implement the discharge planning requirements of the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation (IMPACT) Act of 2014, which aims to improve consumer transparency and beneficiary experience during the discharge planning process across post-acute care (PAC) settings.


The New Requirements:

As called for in the IMPACT Act, affected organizations must:

Provide discharge instructions to patients who are discharged to their home

Have a medication reconciliation process to enhance medication management and improve patient safety

For patients who are transferred to another facility, send specific medical information to the receiving facility

Establish a post-discharge follow-up process

Under the new requirements, the care team must develop a discharge plan within 24 hours of admission or registration, and complete a discharge plan before the patient is sent home or to another facility. This applies to all inpatients and certain outpatients, including those receiving observation services, undergoing surgery or other same-day procedures, and emergency department patients who have been identified as needing a discharge plan.

Putting Patients at the Center of their Care

Under the IMPACT Act, hospitals, CAHs, and certain PAC providers will be required to collect and report data on both quality and resource use measures. Increased data collection will help improve care delivery in a number of ways, including the discharge planning process. With access to standardized and robust data, patients and caregivers will be able to more easily compare PAC providers on quality and outcomes. Patients can then select the provider that best meets their needs and preferences, making them active contributors to the discharge planning process.

In addition to assisting patients in making well-informed placement decisions, the new policy would give patients greater opportunities to voice their preferences. Before being placed in the next setting of care, patients will be asked what is most important to them regarding treatment and recovery. Their preferences will be a key factor in placement decisions. Policies like this put real meaning behind the words, “consumer-centered healthcare.”

By requiring providers to develop comprehensive discharge plans and by putting patients at the center of care delivery, CMS’ proposed rule aims to achieve better care, smarter spending, and healthier people.

To see how CipherHealth’s patient engagement and care coordination solutions can help you comply with the new discharge planning requirements, contact us today or download our IMPACT Act overview.

Learn More

As Demand Generation Manager, Lucia Huang, RN, integrates her previous experiences on the front lines of patient care within the broader context of the business of healthcare. She is passionate about empowering nurses to provide the highest quality and experience of patient care through technology. Lucia graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and a BSN from the School of Nursing.