Home health volume trends are less favorable than historical norms, a new six-year analysis of patient and discharge data reveals. But some states are bucking the recent industry shift, the report from Healthcare Market Resources shows.
“As we look at the six-year national analysis, we see that the golden years for home health seem to be on their way out,” Healthcare Market Resources says in the report, noting that the gap between patient volume and discharges is narrowing.
While more than one-third of states had flat to declining discharge volume, nine states and one U.S. territory increased discharge volume by more than 5% — Nevada, Virginia, Iowa, Arizona, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Idaho, Delaware and the Virgin Islands.
Those same states also enjoyed 2013 patient growth of more than 5%, as well as Kansas and Utah, data show.
But for the majority of states, patient volume has plateaued and discharges, while still growing, are doing so very slowly.
Normally, home health patient volume would grow in direct proportion to the growth in Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) enrollees, notes Healthcare Market Resources.
“Since Medicare Advantage penetration has been rising, this means a smaller pool of potential home health FFS patients,” the report says. “Further, many agencies have changed admission and re-cert practices because of face-to-face (F2F) and increased regulatory scrutiny (more ADR’s).”
The slowing volume trend is likely to get worse, predicts Healthcare Market Resources.
“One contributing factor is that increased life span which previously prevented a decline in home health utilization is being outpaced by a demographic trough,” the report says. “In theory, the baby boomer generation is often considered a savior to the industry, due to the increasing numbers for those turning 65. In reality, it is the Medicare-eligibles aged 80+ who consume a disproportionate amount of home health services.”
Read the report here.
Written by Cassandra Dowell