Once upon a time, a home care company could show its lower readmission rates among recently discharged patients and prove its value as a post-acute partner. Fast forward a few years later and readmission rates aren’t the only data point health care providers care about in the referral relationship fantasy.
Patient satisfaction is coming more into play, and home care providers need to back up their claims that they can not only keep patients safer and healthier at home—but also happier.
Private duty and nonmedical home care providers are finding success in building relationships with other health care partners as referral sources by becoming winners with patients.
Showing high satisfaction rates to hospital groups and other care providers is becoming key to solidifying these relationships.
“We’re having a lot of luck moving forward with hospitals, [both] interest and formal partnerships,” Gavin Ward, regional director of strategy at 24Hr HomeCare, told Home Health Care News. “We’ve had multiple hospitals formally request proposals from us as a nonmedical entity. Historically, it’s been home care pushing that, but now hospitals are coming to us, and we think a big part of that has been having the data to put forth.”
Los Angeles-based 24Hr HomeCare is a nonmedical home care provider founded in 2008 with locations in California, Arizona and, most recently, Dallas, Texas. Over the last few years, the private duty company has become well-known for its technology and innovative partnerships with ride-sharing company Uber and even becoming involved in bundled payment initiatives with hospital systems.
Payor sources such as Medicare have begun penalizing hospitals for high readmissions, creating an advantage for home care providers that can keep patients out of the acute care setting. But private duty agencies are bringing other data points to bear in making the case for themselves as a referral partner.
While seeking more relationships with other health care providers, 24Hr HomeCare has started to leverage its patient satisfaction data. The company collects data on a monthly basis through random phone surveys with clients.
The company is seeing more “excitement” from providers that are involved in bundled payments, according to Ward, with private duty finding a place so long as outcomes are improved. Ward also called the data a “key” piece of their strategic partnerships in 2017.
Feedback and Satisfaction
For franchise home care company Right at Home, collecting feedback and information for the fast-growing business is vitally important. The company, which has more than 500 locations in eight countries, has rolled out patient satisfaction surveys to roughly half its locations. With thousands of responses from patients, Right at Home has amassed “a pretty massive database of client interviews,” according to Mike Flair, vice president of franchise business solutions.
Just a year or so ago, Right at Home was using a method that was “so old school,” with random surveys in only a handful of locations and interviewing a small census, according to Flair. Now, armed with monthly reports from a third party source, Home Care Pulse, franchise owners are sharing the data on patient satisfaction with referral sources, and hospitals are taking notice, he said.
“One of our largest referral sources is the hospital system,” Flair told HHCN. “We’ve seen a number of offices that have gotten inroads with hospitals [as a referral choice]. …From the proof is in the pudding standpoint, this gives us that open and honest transparency. [We can tell hospitals] here are the reports, see for yourself.”
With more data over time, Right at Home will be able to identify trends from the client data to drive initiatives for better outcomes and higher quality care.
Beyond gaining credibility with hospital systems, Right at Home is also taking a look at the correlation between patient satisfaction ratings and revenue among its franchisees, though Flair declined to disclose details on any correlation thus far. The third-party service has been a serious investment for the franchisor as a line budget item in the “six figures,” Flair said.
Another major franchisor, Homewatch CareGivers uses the same third-party vendor to collect patient satisfaction data and client feedback.
“For us as the franchisor, we collect all that feedback and modify our best practices, all of our support tools and incorporate all the latest feedback,” said Julie Smith, president and COO of Homewatch CareGivers.
While it also has its own proprietary process for staff feedback, using a well-known vendor also lends credibility to the company’s high ratings. Achieving positive feedback has helped the company’s reputation, Smith believes, grouping in the “top echelon” on a national benchmark again other providers.
“That, for us, is a very important litmus [test],” Smith said.
Instead of hospital groups, the satisfaction data from clients is improving relationships with doctors for many Homewatch CareGivers’ franchisees, according to Smith. Part of their success stems from the wellness approach of care, Smith said.
“Patient satisfaction is important, especially when a doctor refers us,” Smith said. “We have something different; not all approaches to care are the same. We focus on the plagues of seniors, like loneliness, helplessness or boredom. If you don’t address those, outcomes drop off.”
As private duty providers continually seek to gain a seat at the table with other partners in a shifting health care environment, data around patient satisfaction will continue to be a clear advantage.
“Visibility is just critical, and we do provide that,” Smith said.
Written by Amy Baxter