While medically complex and critically ill patients make up only 5% of the U.S. patient population, they account for 50% of healthcare spending,1 magnifying the need to properly identify the most efficient care delivery pathways for these patients.

Superior LTACH Expertise in Treating the Growing Medically Complex Population

Recent data highlights that patients admitted to short-term acute care hospitals (STACHs) have increasingly complicated medical conditions – leading many hospitals to seek support from an experienced management partner in the long-term acute care hospital (LTACH) space to help address the unique needs of this critical population.

Two factors contributing to an LTACH’s vital role in treating the growing medically complex patient population include:

  1. Specialized Expertise

    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 spend three or more days in the ICU or require mechanical ventilation. Further, on average, LTACH patients have an average of nearly six or more comorbiditiesand the Case Mix Index (CMI) and Average Length of Stay (ALOS) at LTACHs have increased in the past year.3

    Before and during COVID-19, LTACHs demonstrated their specific advantage among post-acute care providers in treating this medically complex patient population, as evidenced by the fact that LTACHs were 50% less likely than SNFs to discharge a current patient to a STACH.This expertise in treating medically complex patients plays a critical role in reducing costly readmissions.

  2. 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 these patients receive access to the most effective treatment for their diagnoses.

    This involvement contributes to an improvement in patient outcomes and in the overall cost efficiency of care delivery. Further, LTACHs have 25-34% lower per-day payments than STACHs. As such, LTACHs play a critical role in value-based networks and accountable care organizations.4

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. Having an experienced partner in this space helps to not only ease the burden of facilitating this type of vital care, but helps to ensure the highest quality of care is delivered to this vulnerable population.

Read our whitepaper, “Addressing Medically Complex Patient Challenges: How LTACHs Help Health Systems Improve Care and Reduce Cost” to learn more about the benefits of having an LTACH partner.


  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
By Kindred Hospitals