Home health services are expected to expand as more patients are sent directly home from hospitals. But what if the recommended post-acute care never occurs?

A future possibility? Actually, it’s already the norm, a new study suggests.

Jun Li, Ph.D., an assistant professor at Syracuse University, and colleagues, found that only 54% of Medicare patients nationwide referred to home healthcare services received visits within two weeks of discharge.

“This rate was even lower among Black and Hispanic patients, those who were dually enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid, and patients who lived in high-poverty, high-unemployment ZIP codes,” Li noted.

Li added the findings suggest many patients face notable barriers to continued care once they leave a hospital. The study called on policymakers to ensure that all patients receive recommended post-acute care services. Full findings are available here.