Health Care Delivery System Continuum

Now, more than ever, the health care delivery system faces a great challenge as it plays a crucial role in providing health services to all patients across all levels of health care.

This is especially true in the contemporary society wherein rapid changes, brought about by technological advancement and cultural diversity, are seemingly apparent. In fact, ever since the mid 1980s, the U.S. health care system has been experiencing a constant change (Potter & Perry, 2001).

Moreover, the cost of health care has undeniably been ascending, which somehow affects its accessibility and affordability to clients who are seeking health services. With this, a more active, more caring, and a more responsive health care system must be realized and must become evident to meet the demands of the rapidly-evolving field of health care. In regard to these facts, this paper aims to describe the health care delivery component’s role in providing services and how it contributes to or lacks contribution to the overall management of health care resources.

Moreover, its role in transitioning patients from one level to another level of care in the health care continuum, with emphasis on long-term care, shall also be exemplified in the course of this paper.

In addition, a discussion of relevant details, which include (1) services provided and how these fit in the continuum of care, (2) how the entity contributes or does not contribute to the overall management of resources, and (3) future trends of health care and how services will be impacted or need to change because of these trends, shall be included. Hence, a review and analysis of reputable and pertinent references/literatures will be employed, thereby guiding the entire discussion.

Findings and Analysis

Before arriving to the main points of the discussion, let us first take a look at the definitions of the following significant terms:

Continuum of Care – refers to the levels of care through which an individual moves, which also depends upon his/her needs and condition at a specific/given point or time (Bostrom & Schwecke, 1999).

Long-term Care – health services under the continuing care level of health care, which offers and renders services over a lengthened period of time to people who have functional disabilities, or to those who have lost their functional capacities (Kane & Kane, 1987 as cited in Potter & Perry, 2001, p. 34).

The health care delivery component’s role in providing services and overall management of health care resources

When a person gets sick and assumes the so called “sick-role”, the health care delivery system renders all the necessary services that encompass the period from the client’s admission to the hospital, or treatment facility, to his/her discharge and up until the rehabilitation and continuing care at home, where the client is expected to have full recovery or regains his/her sense of well being. In this manner, the health providers play significant roles as managers and coordinators in all aspects pertaining to client care and utilization of all possible resources.

Indeed, with all these facts, the health care delivery system, which comprises the physicians, nurses, midwives and allied health practitioners, renders a significant contribution in the overall management and allocation of health resources.

Its role in transitioning patients from one level to another level of care in the health care continuum (emphasis on long-term care)

Although the health care system attempts to be an integrated whole to deliver care across the continuum, nevertheless, according to Fowler & Stokes (1996), the levels of care  do not function as an integrated system in most of the settings (as cited in Potter & Perry, 2001, p.40).

In this regard, proper coordination among the health team in various levels of health care (preventive care, primary care, secondary/acute care, tertiary/special care, restorative care, continuing/long-term care) must be a necessity in order to provide continuity in the management and care of clients.

With this, the nursing force/staff, as part of the health care delivery system, plays valuable roles in discharge planning and developing a care delivery model, like case management, to support the clientele through a continuum of care (Potter & Perry, 2001).

Discharge planning, which begins from the time that a client is admitted to a hospital or health institution/health care facility, paves the way to a well-coordinated, continuing care as it ensures that a plan has been thoroughly formulated before the client transfers to another setting or environment, thus achieving a smooth and orderly transition from one level to another level of care (Potter & Perry, 2001).

A concrete example is when a client with functional disability is transported from the hospital to his/her home or rehabilitation center.

In this case, the health team from the hospital communicates all the interventions that have been done and the follow-up treatment regimens to the medical and nursing staff rehabilitation of the rehabilitation center, or the caregivers and significant others at the client’s home. In this way, it can be sure that the client receives a long-term care to maintain his/her quality of life by way of rendering appropriate long-term care interventions.

On the other hand, case management, an example of a care delivery model, is “a collaborative process which assesses, plans, implements, coordinates, monitors, and evaluates options and services to meet an individual’s health needs through communication and available resources to promote quality and cost –effective outcomes” (Case Management Society of America, 1995 as cited in Keltner, Schwecke, & Bostrom, 1999).

In this manner, the health services must be rendered according to the level or continuum of care as well as satisfying the needs of the patients to ensure desirable and successful outcomes.

Consequently, the health care services that must be implemented according to a certain level of health care, say for example long-term care, would include nursing services, dietary and dental, manipulation of physical environment, infection control, and occupational therapy services as well as assisting the caregivers and families, in order for the client to meet his/her personal, social, and overall needs of the client to maintain the quality of life that the client ought to have.

Thus, these services fit the continuum of care that the client is in, thereby enabling the client to cope with his/her activities of daily living (ADLs).