States Where Home Health Utilization Grew Most in 2015

Utilization of home health services as a whole remained flat and even saw a bit of decline from 2014 to 2015, but there were a number of states that saw growth during that year, according to data released by Healthcare Market Resources.

Though the national overall utilization number was down to 10% in 2015 from 10.2% in 2014, 19 states experienced growth, the data found. The 19 states were equally distributed among the top, second, third and bottom quartiles for total utilization. Utilization refers to the number of home health patients served divided by the total number of Medicare fee-for-service enrollees.

The top states with the highest home health utilization growth in 2015 were North Dakota and Minnesota, both of which saw growth of more than 8%.

Other states with some of the highest percentages of home health utilization growth from 2014 to 2015 included: Arkansas from 7.9% to 8.1%; Maine from 8.5% to 8.7%; Maryland 8.4% to 8.6%; South Carolina from 8.0% to 8.2% and South Dakota from 3.9% to 4.1%, according to the data.

On the flip side, eight states saw declines greater than 4%. Those states included Alaska, Ohio, Florida and Puerto Rico. The top and bottom utilization quartiles saw higher declines, with averages between 1.5% and 1.9%, while the two middle quartiles saw an average decline of 0.8%.

Looking toward the future, there are two schools of thought when it comes to seeing a continual decline in home health utilization or an increase in utilization in the coming years.

“Pay for performance efforts, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and readmission penalties each bring home health organizations to the forefront as a partner for hospitals and ACOs and can mean increased usage of home health services,” Healthcare Market Resources states.

On the other hand, there is also the worry that more regulation barriers and increased documentation requests could mean seeing more declining utilization, the report added.

Written by Alana Stramowski

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