The role of the respiratory therapist figures heavily in a new report published in the October 2016 issue (Volume 3, Issue 4) of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases: Journal of the COPD Foundation.
The report outlines the results from the second annual National COPD Readmissions Summit, which was convened by the COPD Foundation in March of 2015 to address issues of concern in light of the addition of COPD to the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program. Stakeholders, including representatives from the AARC, came together to categorize challenges to optimal COPD care, analyze the state of care delivery and readmissions reduction strategies, and identify the best available evidence-based approaches to improving care delivery across the continuum.
Among the top challenges identified by the stakeholders were problems in financial and staff resources. Most notably for RTs, the authors zeroed in on “policies that limit access to educators, respiratory therapists, and others outside the hospital.”
The report specifically calls for the establishment of multidisciplinary COPD clinics that include respiratory therapists as key providers.
In summing up their findings on RTs, the authors write, “Respiratory therapists should be included as central members of the health care team for people with COPD while hospitalized and post-discharge. For those organizations that have not yet included respiratory therapists in their COPD care teams as well as those who have integrated them into their care processes, efforts should be made to clearly elucidate the role of respiratory therapy and therapists at every stage of care.”
The COPD Foundation launched its PRAXIS initiative in April of 2015 to facilitate the work that will be needed to put the recommendations formulated during the summit into practice. The next step will be the 2017 COPD Readmissions Reduction Institute, an event focused on the translation of research to concrete implementation on the state level.