In the past, when determining the most effective care setting for chronically-ill and medically complex patients, health systems often viewed short-term acute care hospitals (STACHs) as the best option. However, as current data continues to highlight the benefits of LTACHs for patient recovery, many hospitals are beginning to integrate long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs) into their care continuum. This integration is especially critical as the 68 million Americans who are currently experiencing multiple comorbidities lack access to the high-quality, specialized care needed to effectively treat their illnesses.1

LTACHs continue to generate superior outcomes through high-quality care that not only is effective in treating the medically complex patient population and reducing average length of stay, but also reducing readmission risk and total care costs.

Below are two additional misconceptions around long-term care and detail how LTACH integration can improve common areas of concern within the healthcare space, therefore helping to enhance patient and facility outcomes.

  1. Readmission Risk

    Icon - Readmission Risk

    Readmission risk is a top area of concern among health systems. When looking at long-term acute care, many healthcare leaders view extended stays as less effective care being offered. However, the high-quality care provided by an LTACH to treat the critically ill patient population helps to decrease length of stay (LOS and significantly reduces the risk of readmission by 26-44% compared to other post-acute settings, as recently reported by government data.2

    Qualities an LTACH possesses that can aid in successfully reducing readmission risk, include:

    • Integration of a skilled interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, therapists, dieticians and other key specialists;
    • Providing patients with daily oversight from physicians, for daily interventions and management of customized patient care plans; and
    • Access to a team of clinicians with the ability to provide custom care to meet the unique needs of each patient.

    Through these tools and resources, an LTACH can help reduce risk of readmission for a health system, therefore reducing the overall cost of care for patients as well as the hospital.

  2. Care Costs
    Icon - Care Costs 

    Another common myth surrounding LTACHs that coincides with the misconception around readmission risk is patient care cost. Analysis indicates that discharging critically ill patients to an LTACH rather than another post-acute setting contributes to a shorter recovery and a lower total cost of care. Research has also demonstrated that critically ill patients have better outcomes and are less costly to the Medicare program as compared to other settings.3

    Implementation of various tools have been proven to lower care costs while simultaneously benefitting patient outcomes. These include:

    • Implementing innovative technology solutions;
    • Obtaining Joint Commission accreditations and special certifications; and
    • Integrating the latest infection control protocols and procedures

    When a hospital includes an LTACH in their care continuum, they can experience 39% lower per-day payments compared to STACHs, while also mitigating exposure to costly outlier payments to STACHs – further demonstrating an LTACH’s critical role in value-based networks and accountable care organizations.4

Meeting patient needs through LTACH partnership

As hospitals work to resolve critical issues around readmission risk, care costs and specialization, LTACHs serve as a vital resource to address today’s healthcare challenges and meet the growing patient needs in local communities.

Read our white paper, “LTACHs: Four Things Hospital Leaders Need to Know to Enhance Outcomes” to learn how Kindred can help your hospital address current and future patient needs through LTACH integration and partnership.


  1. Boersma, P., Black, L., & Ward, B. (2020, September 17). Prevalence of multiple chronic conditions among us Adults, 2018. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. MedPAC 2004; RTI 2012.
  3. Koenig, Lane et al. “The Role of Long-term Acute Care Hospitals in Treating the Critically Ill and Medically Complex: An Analysis of Nonventilator Patients.” Medical care vol. 53,7 (2015): 582-90.
  4. Kindred Healthcare calculations using data from CMS MEDPAR, 2019
By Kindred Hospitals