Home Health Business Briefs: Amedisys in New Medicare Model, WillCare Update

As one of the fastest-growing sectors in the United States, home health care is teeming with activity — from acquisitions and partnerships to new leadership appointments and promotions. Here’s the latest news buzzing around the industry:

Willcare to Remain Stable After $51 Million Almost Family Acquisition

WillCare Inc. does not anticipate that its current management or operational revenues will change due to its acquisition by national home care giant Almost Family (Nasdaq: AFAM), according to filings with the state of New York.

The $51 million purchase in February 2015 was the second largest in company history for Almost Family, based in Louisville. WillCare is a skilled home health and personal care provider, which operates 16 branch locations in three states: New York, Connecticut and Ohio.

The deal is expected to close in August or early September, Buffalo Business First reported. That is pending bank financing being completed and New York’s Department of Health signing off.

“Nothing changes at the delivery branches, so all that stays the same,” WillCare President Eric Armenat told Buffalo Business First. “The Buffalo office will remain and all other offices will continue to operate under the Willcare name.”

Armenat and WillCare Founder and CEO Todd Brason will remain in their positions at least through the deal closing. The Brason family sold a controlling interest in the company to private equity fund manager Summer Street Capital Partners LLC of Buffalo in 2008.

ChartaCloud to Offer Humanoid Robot to U.S. Providers

ChartaCloud Technologies, LLC will begin to offer MEDi the humanoid robot fro RXRobots to health care providers in the United States, the company recently announced.

MEDi acts as a pain coach, companion and educator for pediatric patients in a variety of settings; it was developed by RxRobots of Calgary, Alberta.

“We are very excited to be able to offer MEDi to pediatric health care providers in the U.S. to reduce the stress and pain children can face in healthcare situations. When you learn that parents will actually drive greater distances to have their child cared for in a MEDi empowered environment, you know its meaningfulness,” ChartaCloud Managing Director Lauryn Schimmel said in a prepared statement. “Being able to offer MEDi is a major step forward in our strategic efforts to be at the forefront of offering innovative ‘best-of-breed’ technologies in home care, telehealth and remote patient monitoring.”

MEDi won the 2015 Best Practices Award for North American New Product Innovation from technology research firm Frost & Sullivan.

ChartaCloud is headquartered in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Its primary mission is to help companies automate and streamline processes by shifting from a paper-based to digital documentation environment. It will be providing MEDi through its health care technologies, solutions and services offering called ChartaCares. 

FirstLight HomeCare Unveils New Website

National home care franchisor FirstLight HomeCare now has a new website, with the goal of making it easier for prospective and current owners to receive information, the company recently announced.

Cincinnati, Ohio-based FirstLight was founded in 2009 and had 125 franchises in 28 states as of February 2015. It provides non-medical home care, with services available in assisted living facilities, retirement communities, nursing homes, adult-family homes and group homes as well as at private residences.

The new franchise website is mobile friendly and includes a downloadable franchise kit, guides to help transition prospects into ownership, an interactive map to determine what territories are open, and access to home care webinars.

Lingraphica’s New At-Home Options for Speech Therapy 

TalkPath Live and TalkPath News are new products that will join the existing TalkPath Therapy online platform from Lingraphica.

TalkPath Live enables people to receive one-on-one, customized speech therapy in their own home, via video conference with a certified speech-language pathologist, according to Lingraphica. There also is a group therapy option in which users can socialize and engage in conversation with other, similarly skilled individuals. 

TalkPath News is for people who need assistance reading, listening to or comprehending the news, by posting the latest stories Monday through Friday. As the user reads each story, the text is highlighted and an audio component speaks each word at a slow pace. 

Lingraphica describes TalkPath Therapy as a “free, task-based, online platform featuring more than 11,500 exercises that individuals with language and cognitive impairments can access via a web browser or the app (available on the App Store).”

TalkPath Live has a $100 clinical assessment fee, required for the pathologist to do an initial assessment and create a care plan.

Lingraphica, The Aphasia Company describes itself as the only company dedicated to providing speech-generating devices, online speech therapy, and therapy and communication apps for people with aphasia or verbal apraxia. It is based in Princeton, New Jersey. 

Amedisys, VNA Hospices Tapped for New Medicare Program

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service is rolling out a new program under which Medicare hospice patients can receive palliative and curative care at the same time.

CMS initially planned to include 30 hospices in the Medicare Care Choices Model, but due to immense interest, expanded the group to more than 140 hospices, the agency announced this week. Some of the most prominent names in home care and hospice are on that list. It includes:

  • Visiting Nurse Association & Hospice of Vermont and New Hampshire
  • Amedisys Hospice LLC dba Amedisys Hospice of South Carolina
  • Great Lakes Home Health Services Inc. dba Great Lakes Caring (Michigan)
Under the model, the hospices will provide services under the Medicare hospice benefit for routine home care and respite levels of care, which cannot be separately billed under Medicare Parts A, B and D. These services include nursing, hospice aid and nutritional support. Curative services include physical or occupational therapy and other services in the plan of care for which Medicare otherwise would provide reimbursement. CMS will pay a per beneficiary per month fee, ranging from $200 to $400, for participating hospices providing those services.

The 5-year model is anticipated to involve up to 150,000 beneficiaries. They must fall into certain categories to participate, including that they are under the care of a participating hospice. About half the participating hospices will begin providing the two types of services starting in 2016; the others will begin in 2018. Hospices will be randomly assigned to Phase 1 or Phase 2.

See the full list of participating hospices.