Tell Stories with Data for Home Health Success

Data is king, and home health care agencies will lose out on critical partnerships if they don’t embrace the numbers, industry leaders agree.

“Data analysis is key to demonstrating value in home health,” said Teresa Lee, executive director of Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation during the Home Care & Hospice LINK Conference on Wednesday in Chicago. The Alliance is a nonprofit that provides research on the value home health care.

“If you have a high value story to tell, you’re in good shape,” Lee said about building relationships with the health care industry’s major players.

“If health care providers, such as hospitals, don’t think you’re a high value partner they’ll build on their own and hire their own nurses,” she said. “What’s worrisome is if they have a high value partner in their area but don’t see it. You have to tell your own story.”

As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services continues to push providers to adopt new pay models — transitioning from fee for service to alternative payment models and payments tied to value — it’s imperative for home health care providers to adapt to a changing regulatory environment. And adapting means embracing, and sharing, data.

In addition, the federal government recently proposed making home health data a more significant part of hospitals’ electronic health records (EHRs).

VNA Health Group: Dedicated to Data

The Visiting Nurse Association Health Group, Inc. (VNA Health Group) consistently shares data with partners and key organizations, including payers, the health system and post-acute networks, said Sherl Brand, chief external affairs officer with VNA Health Group.

The Red Bank, N.J.-based nonprofit home health care organization is one of the nation’s largest Medicare-certified providers of in-home care, private care, hospice, palliative care and more.

“We’re constantly being challenged to prove what we can do,” Brand said, referring to the home health industry.

To share relevant data with partner organizations, VNA Health Group developed a partner dashboard; it is shared with C-suite members of partner organizations on a monthly basis.

“They’re interested to see what our conversion rates are,” she said. “When we get a referral, what do we do with it? They’re interested in how we’ll reduce hospital readmissions and ER visits.”

Home care providers should also get data share agreements in place with partner organizations to ensure it’s a “two-way street,” she said.

VNA Health Group is also dedicating a segment of its team to analyze the organization’s data in regard to partner organizations’ interests to keep up with demand.

“At all the different meetings [with other health care organizations] they all want different data,” Band said. “We can’t keep doing different reports depending on the audience, so we, with our IT department, have a new vice president of data and research to start and build that area of expertise within the organization so we can be more flexible with what we share.”

America’s Best Option: Proof In Numbers

Home health agencies are a key partner in post-acute care, data shows.

The average rate across the top 20 most common Medicare Severity Diagnosis Related Groups (MS-DRGs) discharged from the hospital to selected post acute care settings who needed to be readmitted was 17.39% of patients using home health services compared to more than 18% using skilled nursing facilities, Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation data show.

Data suggests that clinically appropriate and cost effective placement of patients in post-acute care settings could save Medicare $100 billion over the next 10 years if coupled with structural changes, such as policy reforms.

“People are starting to see home health as a high value service,” Lee said, noting that many patients who use skilled nursing services after being discharged from the hospital could benefit from using home health services instead.

In addition, skilled nursing costs Medicare more money than home health care, data show.

“Where clinically appropriate, home health is the most cost effective setting,” Lee said. “The [health care] landscape is changing dramatically, and fast — but that presents opportunities for home health care. We’ve got the data to show we present a tremendous value system for the health care system.”

Written by Cassandra Dowell