Time to Get Back to Business of Patient Care

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

Home Health Agency Patient CareAren’t you glad that we can now get on with the business of caring for our patients? It seems like the entire healthcare industry was holding its collective breath for months in anticipation of the Supreme Court ruling upholding the major portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Regardless of your home health agency’s view or your personal feelings on the controversial issue, the idea of some finality (for now, at least) should be a relief to everyone. Even if the Supreme Court had struck down substantial portions of ACA, it’s become clear that the ideas of delivering better care in the lowest-cost setting and of providers pooling their expertise to share in the risks and gains of caring for a population of patients will not go away.

It’s also clear that you need a robust technology infrastructure to participate in these new ways of caring for patients and to transmit the necessary patient and payer data among providers. Using John Hopkins’ Hospital at Home program, Presbyterian Healthcare Services in New Mexico was able to reduce costs by 20% versus hospital care during a year-long pilot. Hospital at Home patients had slightly lower readmission and mortality rates, lower use of lab and diagnostic testing and 10% higher patient satisfaction.

Because fee-for-service Medicare doesn’t currently support initiatives such as Hospital at Home with payment codes, implementation has been stifled and for the most part is limited to managed care and Veterans Affairs health systems.

Still not sure about whether you need that electronic medical record or home health software analytic capabilities to participate in care coordination initiatives? Well, it seems like you do. Waiting to start your ICD-10 journey? There’s no time like the present.

Regardless of what politicians do or don’t do, the business of healthcare will go on. Agencies that fail to adapt to changing conditions will face a tough road ahead.

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