It’s not surprising that changes in Medicare reimbursement patterns are leading to a lot of experimentation when it comes to improve the delivery of healthcare. But what might surprise some is how much of that experimentation is taking place in patients’ homes.
As a recent article by HealthLeaders Media puts it, “as hospitals reach outside their walls to be more closely involved in the entire care continuum of patients, home care presents some tantalizing opportunities.”
Said one home healthcare administrator, Sheila Schubert, of Hollywood, FL-based Memorial Healthcare System, “For a very long time, people have known this is the way medical care should be delivered. This has been predicted for more than 20 years, and now it’s really happening. We’re doing IV drips at home. We’re monitoring patients at home. Services that used to be done in the ICU are now being done in the home.”
Given the emphasis on reducing hospital readmissions, much of the value of enhanced home care revolves around reducing or avoiding costs, and Schubert notes that “home care has taken the lead to make sure there are smooth transitions,” adding that limiting unnecessary medical expenses is one of the keys to delivering value-based care.
But reducing readmissions isn’t the only benefit to home care. Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Health Network (AHN), which entered the home health market in 2014 through the acquisition of four companies, focuses on care coordination. According to Brian Holzer, senior vice president for diversified services at AHN, care coordinators are a crucial component of Healthcare @ Home, the business unit that manages AHN’s home-health services.
“We have four home-health companies, but a single point of contact for the patient,” Holzer explained.
Instead of having a handful of care coordinators at each home-health subsidiary, there are about 40 care coordinators on the Healthcare @ Home staff who help the subsidiaries coordinate all home-health services for each patient.