The Increasing Importance of Home Healthcare in America

[row][col sm_width=”10″ sm_offset=”1″]News-Line for Home Care Professionals

Home healthcare plays an important part in ensuring better patient outcomes. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that up to 75% of hospital re-admissions are potentially preventable, and increasingly people are looking to hire home health care services as a way to reduce incidents of re-admittance to the hospital, receive better follow up care, increase communication between patients and providers and decrease medication errors. Despite these facts, home healthcare doesn’t always get the same consideration as other areas of the healthcare industry.[/col][/row]

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In February, I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion on Wall Street’s perspective of the healthcare industry, hosted by the Nashville Healthcare Council. The analysts on the panel suggested that reduction of Medicare reimbursements for home health providers means “flattish” growth on the high end and drops in revenue of 5 to 10% on the low end.

Wall Street, it seems, isn’t very bullish on home health care investment and acquisitions.

In my opinion, Wall Street’s analysis is completely wrong. Home health services are taking a hit right now, but short- and long-term factors are going to change that outlook and drive a new wave of acquisitions and growth in home care.

In the short-term, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) opens up several opportunities for growth in the home health industry. For example, the ACA establishes a regulation that hospitals that are re-admitting too many patients shortly after releasing them risk losing Medicare funds unless they can improve patient outcomes.

Hospitals re-admitting too many patients will in large part look to home health services as a means to ensure quality follow up care, monitoring and communication, because, simply put, patients who have some help at home are less likely to return to the hospital shortly after being sent home.

In the long-term, with the retirement of the Baby Boomers over the next 15 years, we are going to see a huge uptick in the number of patients who will not only need home health services, but will demand it. Home healthcare services are patient-centered. It is natural for a patient to prefer to be in his or her own home, where care can be personalized and consistently monitored.

This is why I believe that the future is bright for home healthcare services. While Wall Street analysts are saying, “don’t move into home care” or “don’t buy home care agencies,” I would be doing exactly the opposite.

The downward pressure on Medicare reimbursements has depressed the home care market, but with both hospitals and other providers depending on home healthcare, and with more patients demanding it, the government has little choice but to support it. The government will have to create a system of reimbursements that will allow for profitable sustenance of home healthcare delivery.

Over the next few years, I expect we will see a slight expansion of the definition of homebound status. This will allow home care agencies to be available to more patients. As technology improves, we will see patients spending more time at home in recovery or living at home with chronic illnesses. More importantly, we will see a recognition of the importance of home care services as an equal partner in patient care, capable of making a big difference in patient outcomes.

Running a home health services agency is not easy and it is especially tough to be operating one in the current climate. But if you can find the money to survive, we are on the precipice of great changes in the industry that will mean long-term financial stability and better healthcare for everyone.

Dan Hogan founded Medalogix in 2009 to address the medication complications he saw occurring among geriatric patients at Doctor’s Associates Home Health, the Manchester, Tennessee home health agency he owned and operated from 2005 to 2010. Now part of SunCrest Healthcare, Inc., Doctor’s Associates Home Health employs 108 full- and part-time staff to provide skilled nursing, physical therapy, speech therapy, and medical social services to approximately 380 home bound, geriatric patients in rural communities east of Nashville. Learn more at – See more at:[/col][/row]