Four Home Health Predictions for 2012

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

2012 Home Health Predictions

The new year represents a terrific opportunity to pause, take a break from one’s day-to-day demands and contemplate the future. I don’t have a crystal ball, but it’s apparent to me that several trends in the home health industry will remain at the forefront during 2012.
Here’s what I see playing out over the next year.

1. Accountable care is here to stay. Note that I didn’t say accountable care organizations. CMS certainly has placed an abundance of faith and money in ACOs, and I see no reason why they can’t succeed. But the notion of accountable care, with providers working together for the common good of patients, will continue regardless of whether ACOs are a home run or a swing and a miss. If you haven’t found a way to work more closely with your referring partners already, you need to get started.

2. Technology is more important than ever. The next three predictions are closely linked. The healthcare industry is in the midst of the greatest technological revolution ever. Within a few years, providers will be able to share information seamlessly across care platforms as patients move from home to hospital to post-acute facility and back to home. Providers using home health software such as Horizon Homecare already have a powerful platform to integrate and share clinical, financial and administrative data. Other providers may be lagging but will quickly catch up.

3. Greater focus seen on clinical and operational data. The rise of accountable care and patient-centered medical homes has put a greater emphasis on data rather than relationships. You can say your agency has great outcomes and is efficient, but can you prove it? Here’s another place where technology can help you get a handle on the metrics of your business and give clinicians best practice information and aggregated patient data to make smart decisions at the bedside.

4. Downward pressure on reimbursements will continue. Doing more with less already has become the new normal, but reimbursements will be more tightly aligned with outcomes and actual services delivered. You must know what your costs are relative to other agencies and industry benchmarks—another area where technology can help.

There certainly will be other factors in play during 2012, but these are among the most important. This is no time for complacency. It is a time to understand your business intimately, to be able to communicate your value proposition to partners and to deliver superior care to your clients.

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