Turn Challenges into Opportunities During 2013

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)
Home Health Agencies Leap Challenges

A number of challenges await home health agencies in 2013, according to members of McKesson’s Home Care Advisory Council. During a recent meeting, Advisory Council members outlined several areas that keep them awake at night:

Data/outcomes: Hospitals are demanding more data as they position themselves as accountable care organizations and other changing delivery models to address the Triple Aim for healthcare reform. However, communicating data and outcome measurements can be challenging because differences often exist in how these measures are defined across the healthcare continuum.

Cost of doing business: Seemingly, home health would be poised for growth since one of the goals of health reform is to lower the cost of care while improving outcomes, and home health is a low cost provider. However, agencies still struggle to clearly demonstrate their value to potential partners. Additionally, they must balance the competing challenges of lower reimbursements with higher costs associated with increased scrutiny for the care they deliver and providing health insurance for more employees.

Competition: Competition now includes non-traditional providers, including large retail pharmacies and providers of emergency services. This new dynamic helps make it more difficult for home health agencies to get a seat at the table in the ACO models.

Lack of clarity: Pressing questions for the industry include co-insurance, rebasing and reimbursement issues with Medicare. As one member asked, “Where is the bottom?”

This might sound like doom and gloom, but savvy home health agency leaders see these challenges as opportunities to evaluate their people and processes to find innovative ways to provide quality, compassionate care to their patients.

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