Standing Still Not an Option for Home Health Agencies

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)

Home Health Agencies Can't Afford to Stand StillToday’s care and reimbursement environment is one of constant change. I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already recognize during each work day.

But you may not realize that standing still to wait for the change to subside is not an option if you want your agency to survive and thrive in the future. The question, then, is how best to position your agency for the changes that need to occur.

According to Troy Langsdale, partner in the healthcare practice at CliftonLarsonAllen, the first step is to conduct a strategic analysis of your agency and your market, then develop an action plan to improve organizational performance and take advantage of new opportunities. Your plans “have to be in tune with local culture, customs and delivery patterns,” Langsdale says.

Key strategies include:

  • Decide whether to lead, follow or resist
  • Prepare to assume risk
  • Use technology better
  • Align provider interests
  • Connect quality to value
  • Build new relationships

An agency owner interested in growing, for example, could become involved with community health initiatives. Then, if a new care model such as an ACO is formed, the owner would naturally be part of the conversation. Likewise, you probably already are doing disease management in your agency, but are you calling it that? A simple name change and the capturing of data will help show your value to partners and potential partners.

Langsdale also stresses the importance of operational efficiency, eliminating waste wherever possible, maximizing value-added offerings and minimizing anything that doesn’t bring value to the organization. “You need to build processes around the norm, not the exception,” Langsdale says.

And you should actively solicit ideas from among your staff, he notes. Your employees are on the front lines with patients, providers, payers and community members. He suggests setting up a specific email address for ideas and monitoring it frequently.

Despite the myriad changes in the industry, Langsdale says, “On the post-acute side, I’m bullish. The industry is well-positioned in healthcare reform.”

The industry may be well-positioned, but is your agency? That’s a question that only you can answer. And answer it you should.

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