“Can you rate us with a 5?” my auto mechanic asked when I picked up my car.

“Did you like your purchase, please leave a rating on our website!” wrote the seller of something I bought on eBay.

It seems like everyone wants a rating these days, even doctors, but especially hospitals.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rates hospitals, and it’s directly tied into their payment. The ratings are based on quality metrics reported from the hospitals and clinics. Measures include a combination of patient satisfaction with how well doctors and nurses communicate, and also the cost of care.

The better the ratings, the higher the payments, making the quality of care the priority more than the quantity.

If regular hospitals are rated based on the how well their patients do, why aren’t rehab centers rated on their success, too?

Recovery directional sign

After all, there is an ever increasing need for more rehab beds, and the waiting lists are long. But there is no current way to track how well patients are when they leave rehab. All too often, people are sent back to the very community and friends that they had while on drugs or alcohol, and they relapse.

With the average stay in rehab costing $12,000 to $60,000, why not have quality ratings for rehab facilities, too?

Hospitals are rated not just on their treatment of complex medical conditions, but also on how well their patients do once they go home. Transition teams of nursing staff and physicians work together to streamline the process of setting up follow up visits, tests and more.

This collaborative approach has helped identify additional patient needs such as home nursing visits and medication refills, among many other things. After all, the plan is to help keep the patient from getting worse and needing to be back in the hospital.

Why can’t rehab facilities do the same? Rehabilitation facilities could take on a more active role when patients are integrated back into their community to help keep them from relapses, and free up space for others to be admitted.

Part of the team could include a rehab coach who would coordinate with newly released patients to help provide connections for jobs, housing, and other social supports. Just as with standard hospitals, patient readmissions would be tracked.

Success rates for rehab would be posted on a website just like a hospital’s, making it easy to compare and help promote excellence in the quality of care for addicts.

Nationwide agencies could monitor to make sure that all rehab facilities provided the standard of care needed to keep people from relapsing. The best facilities could share their process with others who don’t rate as well.

Rather than having patients go to multiple different rehab facilities in an effort to succeed, more attention could be placed on programs that work, the first time.

Where would the money come from to pay for this?

The pharmaceutical industry has been forced to take responsibility for its actions with the promotion of opioids in the medical community. The total amount of the settlements for opioid lawsuits is in the billions.

Success rates for rehab would be posted on a website just like a hospital’s, making it easy to compare and help promote excellence in the quality of care for addicts.

That money needs to be used for regulated, evidence-based treatment of addicts to help keep them off of the street and off of drugs.

This helps the general public too, as the estimated cost for the crisis thus far is in the billions of dollars already.

Purdue Pharmaceuticals has considered a settlement with the government for $10 billion to $12 billion, a small amount considering their hundreds of millions of dollars of profits from their drugs over the years. The toll that addiction has taken on the lives of hundreds of thousands of people cannot be underestimated.

Financial settlements should ensure that rehab services are available to all, and are successful in their treatment of addiction.

Setting up inadequate centers with no quality metrics or treatment rates will not solve the problem. It will only create another wave of profiteers that deceive the public on unproven services that have not been shown to work.

The time is now to plan for the appropriate use of the money from the fines levied on the various pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid crisis. Providing rehab facilities the money they need to do their best is a great first step in our own process of recovery.

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