4 Questions to Ask Your Doctor after an Illness or Injury

Patient choice

After a serious illness or injury, you might require additional care to regain your independence and get back to what matters most. However, what setting of care is the best for you or your loved one? That depends. If you or your loved one have recently been hospitalized with a serious illness or injury, consider these questions and ask your doctor what is the best setting for your needs and goals.

Remember to advocate for the care you need and deserve. As a patient, you have a choice on where you receive your care.

What Are my Options?

The Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services defines post-acute care as “care that is provided to individuals who need additional help recuperating from an acute illness or serious medical procedure.” The most common settings of post-acute care include home health, inpatient rehabilitation, skilled nursing facilities and long-term acute care hospitals. What are the differences in these settings?

  • Home health is just as it sounds—healthcare that is brought to you in the comfort of your home. Your care team could include skilled nurses and therapists, and they will work with your physician to determine a care plan that is right for you.
  • Inpatient rehabilitation provides a higher level of care in a hospital setting. Nurses are staffed 24/7. Patients in this setting of care receive three hours of therapy a day from a combination of at least two of the three disciplines: physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Physicians also visit frequently.
  • Skilled nursing facilities offer therapy, but there is no requirement for how much therapy, and nurses are not staffed around the clock.
  • Long-term acute care is for those who have had an extended, medically complex hospital stay, and though rehabilitation is provided in these hospitals, due to the severity of their illness or injury, patients may not be able to fully participate in therapy, as they may require assistance breathing.
Learn more about rehabilitation at Encompass Health

Encompass Health is the nation’s largest provider of inpatient rehabilitation treating those recovering from stroke, spinal cord injury, brain injury and more.

What Should I Expect in Therapy?

Therapy should be designed to meet your individual goals, and your care team should help you and your loved one design a realistic plan that helps you regain your highest level of independence. Your therapy team should work closely with your physician, nurses and case manager, meeting often to check on your progress and prepare you for discharge to help you safely get back to your life and community. The more therapy you have, the better. Your care team should adjust your therapy to meet your abilities and unique goals.

  • Physical therapy will help build back your strength
  • Occupational therapy will help you practice everyday tasks that have become challenging after your illness or injury
  • Speech therapy can help with swallowing, talking and even cognitive issues, such as managing your finances

Will my Insurance Cover It?

Work with you physician and desired post-acute care provider to determine if your insurance will cover your stay. Medicare does require a physician order for most care, so be sure to talk with your physician about your goals and where you would like to receive care.

What are their Outcomes in Treating Patients with my Illness or Injury?

Once you and your physician determine the setting of care, you will be given a list of providers. These are likely based on proximity to you as well as quality of care and insurance coverage. Do your research to determine which provider is the best for you. CMS offers this tool to let you see what conditions the provider treats, as well as quality metrics, such as the change in patients’ ability to care for themselves and move around. Also, listen to what others are saying. Read reviews and success stories from patients like you.

Remember, where you receive your post-acute care matters. Be informed of your options and make the choice that is right for you and your recovery.