Tailored Hospital Programs Improve Outcomes for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities

New Study Shows Program Saves Money in Long Run

Roughly 1.2 million American adults have an intellectual disability (ID). People with ID tend to have complex medical needs and face barriers to high-quality healthcare. Medical providers are often unfamiliar with issues that accompany ID. These issues can include sensory impairment, behavioral challenges, medications, or lifestyle problems. To address these gaps in knowledge, some hospitals have implemented tailored programs to ease hospital stays for this population. A new study set out to evaluate whether hospital programs tailored to individuals with ID improves their outcomes. The research team specifically examined the length of stay, cost, and readmission rate for patients with and without a tailored program. Hospitals were classified as having a tailored program if they provided staff education, had specific patient coordinators, provided community outreach or had specific plans for inpatients with ID. Hospitals that did not have such measures were considered not to have a tailored program. The study’s authors accessed records for 6618 patients with ID between January 2010 and September 2018. They ultimately found that individuals treated at hospitals with tailored programs had significantly lower costs than patients treated in hospitals without the program. However, the patients had similar readmission rates and hospital lengths of stay. The research team suggests that cost reduction may be attributed to reduced challenges faced by individuals with ID when receiving healthcare services,  improving their experience with the medical system in general. The study concludes that there is a clear need for standards of care and comprehensive, competency-based provider education for treating this special population. 

Original Study

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