Home Health Is Where the Jobs Are

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

Home Health Is Where the Job AreThe August jobs report was a bright one for the home health industry, but you should check your agency operations closely before breaking out the sparkling cider.

First, the good news: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that home health agencies added 9,500 jobs in August, which accounted for nearly one-third of all healthcare jobs added. That’s more than double the number of jobs that hospitals (900) and skilled nursing facilities (3,400) added, combined. Since 2012, more than 93,000 jobs have been created in the home health industry.

And now the challenging news: A new study commissioned by home care industry associations shows that proposed cuts in Medicare reimbursement would cause 77% of agencies to lose money by 2017. Without changes to the Home Health Prospective Payment System (HHPPS) proposed rule, agency profit margins for Medicare recipients would drop to -9.77%.

Will these cuts actually take place? Proposed rules don’t equal policy, but this proposal is especially troubling given the increased importance that home health plays in reducing hospital readmissions and the movement to provide care in the lowest-cost care settings possible.

It should serve as a wake-up call for home health agency executives. Are your agency management and clinical management operations as efficient as possible? Do your clinicians have the tools they need to do their jobs? How about your billing and QA staff? Can you share patient and agency data with your referral sources and care partners?

Home health software for agency and clinical management can improve the efficiency of your staff, both those on the front lines and those in the back office. This would be the time to take a close look at your agency operations.

The pace of change in the healthcare industry shows no signs of slowing down, and those who fail to adapt will be left behind.

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