Referring to Home Health

How to refer to home health and the benefits for both patient and referring physician.

New Patient Survey Ratings for Home Health

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Patients rate their experiences with their home health agency.

Patients rate their experiences with their home health agency.

The government will post a new type of star rating for Medicare-certified home health agencies, reflecting how well they have performed in the eyes of their patients, starting in January 2016.

The “Patient Survey Star Ratings” will be based on data from the Home Health Care Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HHCAHPS) Survey, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

CMS also in the process of rolling out home health star ratings based on OASIS assessments and claims data. Going forward, the agency will refer to these as the “Quality of Patient Care Star Rating,” to distinguish them from the new Patient Survey ratings.

More information here.


Retirees Rank Home Care No. 1 Way to Meet Long-Term Needs

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New services, technologies and options enable a greater number of people to receive care at home.

New services, technologies and options enable a greater number of people to receive care at home.

Courtesy Home Health Care News/Cassandra Dowell

The vast majority of retirees 50 and older say their top preference for receiving long-term care is in their own home, driving demand for these services, according to a new Merrill Lynch retirement study conducted in partnership with Age Wave. 

Eighty-five percent say, if needed, they would prefer to receive extended care in their home, followed by 10% who said an assisted living facility was their top choice. Four percent said the home of a family member would be their top preference to receive care, and only 1% said a nursing home.

Among people age 85 and older, about three-quarters have difficulties with daily activities, including housework or getting around the home, data show.

New services, technologies and options are enabling a greater number of people to receive care at home, said Ken Dychtwald, president and CEO of Age Wave, during a presentation of the report.

In fact, the number of nursing home residents has declined in the past decade, while at the same time the number of people receiving care at home has increased, data show.

“Another dynamic to those aging is 52% of those 75 and older live alone,” said David Tyrie, head of Retirement & Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, noting an increasing need for home health care services. “Today there are 23 million single Baby Boomers, and 15 million that don’t have children.”

Age 55 and older households account for nearly half (47%) of all spending on home renovations, or about $90 billion annually, data show. Of these households spending money on home renovations, 28% are adding safety features to accommodate aging, and 15% are modifying their home to live on one floor should there be trouble with stairs.

In addition, retirees are not just interested in traditional remodeling activities — they’re interested in technologies that can help them improve and monitor their health.

Three-quarters (76%) are interested in technologies to monitor their health at home, such as sensors, alerts, or medication reminder apps, data show. And six in 10 (58%) are interested in technologies to help them maintain their home, such as cleaning robots or heated driveways.

“As people grow into their later years they don’t want to be forced out of their comfortable home,” Dychtwald said. He noted that especially as people age, moving feels “scary, or unpleasant.”

“Today there are more choices to enable people to remain in their homes as they age,” he said.

Access “Home in Retirement: More Freedom, New Choices” here.


Home Health Agencies Protect Referrals by Cutting Hospital Readmissions

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Home health providers take a variety of steps to cut hospital readmissions, such as using checklists to ensure ongoing care coordination with the hospital after the patient has returned home.

Home health providers take a variety of steps to cut hospital readmissions, such as using checklists to ensure ongoing care coordination with the hospital after the patient has returned home.

Home health agencies are outperforming the post-acute sector as a whole in preventing patient rehospitalizations, according to data released Wednesday by the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation, as reported by Home Health Care News/Tim Mullaney.

The numbers suggest that home health providers are taking steps to protect and expand their referral streams from hospitals, Alliance Executive Director Teresa Lee tells Home Health Care News. Since 2012, hospitals have faced Medicare reimbursement cuts if too many patients return within 30 days, meaning they are looking for post-acute providers that can help prevent readmissions.

Between 2011 and 2012, hospital readmissions from home health settings decreased about 2%, from 19.2% to 17.4%, according to the Alliance’s Chartbook report. For the post-acute sector overall, including skilled nursing and other provider types, the 2012 readmissions rate was 18.4%. These numbers were calculated for readmissions within 30 days of discharge, for the top 20 most common diagnosis groups sent to a post-acute setting.

Home health providers have taken a variety of steps to cut hospital readmissions, such as using checklists to ensure ongoing care coordination with the hospital after the patient has returned home.

Given the shifts in Medicare incentives, other types of providers also have sought to decrease rehospitalizations, and there has been a system-wide reduction, Lee notes.

“There is this overall trend, and we’re very pleased to see home health is part of that trend,” she told HHCN.

Still, the fact that home health agencies are performing especially well on readmissions, coupled with the lower costs for home care versus facility-based care, could make HHAs particularly attractive partners for hospitals — particularly those that are part of accountable care organizations and similar provider groups that are financially rewarded for bringing down Medicare spending while meeting quality objectives.

“I hear anecdotally about agencies interacting with ACOs,” Lee says, noting that she does not have hard numbers on home health participation in ACOs. “It does seem to me that within the Alliance membership, there’s a great deal of engagement with ACOs, bundled payments, these different types of programs.”

Lee also points out that the percentage of patients who go from the hospital to home care has remained relatively stable over the past several Chartbook reports. However, she thinks it is reasonable to expect the proportion to increase in coming years. Medicare data does not immediately become available for analysis, so this shift might be underway well before it is reflected in an Alliance Chartbook report, she notes.

Click here to access the complete report, compiled for the Alliance by Avalere Health.

Article courtesy Home Health Care News