Long-Term Care Acute Hospitals Represent a Growing Market

There are approximately 400 long-term acute care hospitals in the United States. Long-term acute care hospitals include critically ill patients who may live there for months or longer.

According to the New York Times, the cost of long-term acute care is substantial, about $26 billion a year in the United States, and by one estimate the number of patients in these facilities has more than tripled in the past decade to 380,000.

The population is aging, increasing the chances of a catastrophic illness like blood sepsis or acute respiratory distress syndrome that eventually may land patients in a hospital like this one. And doctors are getting better at keeping people alive when they are in intensive care. The result is an increase in the number of highly dependent patients who survive the intensive care unit but must remain on a respirator.

Medicare, concerned about the high price of long-term acute care hospitals, is trying to trim reimbursements. Nearly half of the $7.3 billion cut from its budget by the Affordable Care Act came from reductions in payments to these facilities.

The relationship between long-term care and pharmacy has evolved modestly over the years, but that’s changing as quickly as the burgeoning business models and emerging service lines in both industries.

Unwilling or unable to maintain enterprise pharmacies onsite, many LTPAC organizations have turned to third-party outsourcing for their pharmacy services—choosing to focus on resident care and let the pharmacy delivery expertise fall to someone else.