New Research Released: Who are post-acute and long-term care patients?

June 27, 2016
Perry Gwen Meyers,

It is estimated that a population of 12 million receives long-term services and supports. A new article by David Stefan, Sheikh F, Mahajan D, et al. published in the July issue of JAMDA reveals important information about the post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) population in the United States. This information will be useful in developing policies to support the practitioners and patients, as well as improving the quality of health care to that population.

According to “Whom Do We Serve? Describing the Target Population for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care, Focusing on Nursing Facility Settings, in the Era of Population Health,” PALTC patients can be divided into two clinically and functionally distinct groups:

  • Short-stay, post-acute patients
  • Long-term nursing facility residents

    The first group’s treatment involves intense rehabilitation, medical, and nursing services aiming to restore maximal medical and functional status of the patient. The second group requires significant assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), and is comprised of persons with chronic medical conditions and/or disabilities.

    Other findings published in the article include:

  • Over the last few decades the PALTC population has increased diversity in both age and ethnicity.
  • PALTC is delivered in four distinct settings:
    1. Home Health Agencies (HHAs)
    2. Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs)
    3. Long-Term Care Hospitals (LTACHs)
    4. Nursing Facilities (NFs)
  • Among NF patients, the most common diagnoses were in the circulatory, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems.
  • Four of the five leading causes of preventable hospital readmission for NF residents correspond to their leading diagnoses in the NF setting, potentially reflecting the frailty and multiple comorbidities of this population.

    The research was performed by members of the AMDA – Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine Population Health Workgroup, a sub-group of the Society Public Policy Committee. The workgroup suggests further research with the aim of defining quality and cost metrics for PALTC practitioners.

    For more information on all of the findings above, and more, click here. To contact the researchers or JAMDA Editor for interview contact


    JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. JAMDA publishes peer-reviewed articles including original studies, reviews, clinical experience articles, case reports, and more, on all topics more important to post-acute and long-term care medicine. Visit for more information.

    AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine is the only medical specialty society representing the community of over 50,000 medical directors, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other practitioners working in the various post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) settings. Dedicated to defining and improving quality, we advance our mission through timely professional development, evidence-based clinical guidance, and tireless advocacy on behalf of members, patients, families, and staff. Visit for more information.