Transitional Care

What is transitional care?

For any patient, there are a variety of settings where care may take place—such as at home,  at a hospital, or at an inpatient facility. Within a certain setting, there may also be differences in the type of patient care offered—such as is the case with different departments within a hospital. Transitional care refers to care that is administered in between different care settings when patients are moved from one setting to another.

Transitional care is particularly necessary if a patient actively requires care during transport, such as if a patient with a serious but manageable condition is moving from the hospital back home, or if a hospitalized patient’s condition has deteriorated and they are being moved to the ICU.

However, transitional care also technically includes any movement of a patient, such as if a patient visits their primary care physician and then a specialist afterwards. Communication between the primary care physician and specialist would technically be classified as transitional care.

Why is transitional care important in healthcare?

No matter how drastic the change in setting is for the patient, transitional care serves an essential role in ensuring uniform continuation of the care the patient is receiving. Without transitional care, different healthcare professionals may not have all of the information on the patient they need to provide quality care, potentially resulting in delays or worsened health of the patient.

In the case of transitional care in between more serious settings, such as when a hospitalized patient starts requiring the services of the ICU, transitional care ensures that patients continue receiving all of the physical care services required to maintain their health. In these more serious situations, without transitional care, patients have the potential to experience health ailments due to the interruption in care between settings.