For patients and family members that are considering post-acute care in either an inpatient rehabilitation facility or a nursing home, new research may make their choice a bit easier.  New research shows that patients treated at inpatient rehabilitation hospitals had better long-term outcomes than those treated in nursing homes.  The findings were recently released at a meeting of the American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association (AMRPA).

Using a national sample, the study compared the Medicare payments and outcomes of clinically and demographically similar patients in both inpatient rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes over a two-year period. This analysis provides the most comprehensive national study of its kind to date.

Acute Inpatient Rehabilitation vs. Nursing Home Care

Acute inpatient facilities care for patients that need relatively intense rehabilitation requiring a multidisciplinary team approach. Physicians, nurses, therapists and case managers work along with patients and families to coordinate a personalized plan of care. Additionally, a physiatrist, or physician who specializes in rehabilitation, directs patient care and sees patients daily.

Nursing homes provide intermittent or daily skilled care provided by professional nurses or rehabilitation professionals, however, coordination does not define the level of care and the type of care is less complex. An internal medicine physician generally sees patients weekly or bi-weekly.

Key Study Findings

The study also shows that on average, inpatient rehabilitation hospital patients:

  • Returned home two weeks earlier from their initial hospital stay,
  • Remained home nearly two months longer and
  • Stayed alive nearly two months longer

The study also found that those cared for at inpatient rehabilitation hospitals experienced:

  • 8% lower mortality rate during the two-year study,
  • 5% fewer emergency room visits per year and
  • Significantly fewer hospital readmissions per year (for those with 5 of the 13 diagnostic conditions).

The study also reported that these better clinical outcomes were achieved for only an additional Medicare cost of $12.59 per day.

“This study shows that the highly specialized and coordinated care provided at inpatient rehabilitation hospitals is essential to improving patient outcomes and reducing long-term health care costs.  This data confirms that for patients needing inpatient rehabilitation, an acute rehabilitation facility is superior to rehabilitation at nursing facilities, especially for the more complex cases,” said Terrence Sheehan, M.D., chief medical officer of Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland.

Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland is the first and only acute rehabilitation hospital in Montgomery County, Md.  The facility is the first in a five state area to achieve accreditations in four areas from the Commission for the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) in four areas – amputee, stroke, brain injury and spinal cord. Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital’s specialized treatment programs focus on helping patients increase self-reliance and regain independence in order to recover from a variety of conditions, including:

  • Strokes
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Traumatic & Non-traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Amputations
  • Orthopedic Injuries & Surgeries
  • Cardiopulmonary Conditions
  • Neurological Disorders

To learn more about local rehabilitation services for inpatients or outpatients, visit