A Look at Home Health Care Trends for 2018

As we enter a new year, Manchester Specialty Programs takes a look at what we can expect to see in home health care.  As a national specialty underwriting and insurance program management firm offering business insurance to home care firms and risk management solutions, we are committed to keeping our ‘ears to the ground’ regarding trends and changes that could impact this dynamic and growing industry.

Telehealth on the Rise

Going into 2018, telehealth continues to make inroads in home health care with the Senate’s passing the CHRONIC Care Act of 2017. Currently under consideration by the House of Representatives, this act will extend the use of telehealth to certain chronically ill Medicare patients, among other provisions,

Telehealth, as defined by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient, and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.” These technologies include video conferencing, the Internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.

Proper implementation of telehealth enables patients to receive quality medical attention without leaving their home. Home health care providers can exchange patient information in real time, facilitating the delivery of care and reducing costs.

The Use of Data to Support Performance

Home health care agencies in 2018 will look to leverage data to highlight their services and successful patient outcomes and convey accountability.

Effective January 1, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center implemented what’s known as the Home Health Value-Based Purchasing (HHVBP) Model, a model designed to support greater quality and efficiency of care among Medicare-certified home health agencies across the nation. The ability to use data to show lower or improved hospital readmission rates, one of the factors in evaluating an organization’s performance, can impact overall Medicare reimbursement levels for those participating in the VBP model.

Currently, home health agencies in nine states (Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Washington, Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee) are using the VBP model, according to the CMS.

Home Health Care Specialization

Specialization at home health care agencies is another trend that will continue in 2018. This specialization enables home health care providers to differentiate their services in an increasingly competitive market.

All over the US, this trend is continuing to take hold. A home health agency in Northern California has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association to educate caregivers on how to provide care for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s; another agency in New York added physical therapists to its mix of intake staff at orthopedic hospitals to provide an additional perspective in developing a home care plan for patients following orthopedic surgery.

Additional Regulation

Regulatory compliance continues to impact the home health care industry, including the revised CMS’ Conditions of Participation (CoPs), which took effect January 13, 2018. The updated regulation focuses on the care provided to patients by home health care agencies, and the impact of that care on patient outcomes, and assures the protection and promotion of patient rights. It also enhances the process of care planning, delivery, and coordination of services, and builds a foundation for ongoing, data-driven, agency-wide quality improvement.

Clinicians under the new CoPs will focus on addressing the patient as a whole and taking an interdisciplinary approach to both patient assessment and care planning. Home care administrators, care providers, and the entire care team will have to complete additional documentation and reporting involving all aspects of patient care.

About Manchester Specialty

Manchester Specialty provides total business insurance solutions to home health care and hospice care providers. Our programs include General Liability, Professional Liability, Workers’ Compensation, Management Liability, Cyber Liability and Non-Owned & Hired Auto insurance, among other key coverages. For more information about our business and insurance lines, you or your local agent/broker may contact us at 855.972.9399.

Sources: CMS, HHS Optima Healthcare Solutions