What Home Health Can Learn from This Cancer Survivor

It’s not every day that a personal experience leads to ambitious insights about the way health care is delivered. But for Laura Adams, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI), being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer gave her the specific acumen to envision how quality can work as a business strategy.

RIQI is a nonprofit organization that aims to bring together every facet of the health care system to transform the Rhode Island health care delivery. Her treatment as a patient brought forth several takeaways for the home health care industry in the ways that care is delivered—and how it can be improved. Thinking like a patient could help transform a “sick care delivery system” that reacts to diagnoses to a true heath care delivery system, she said at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) annual conference in Long Beach this week.

Missing the Point

Adams noted that while new payment models are coming into effect, they are not sufficient in pushing quality and person-centered care. For example, in one region, Adams saw three accountable care organizations (ACOs) spring to life, but none of them were willing and able to share data about patients with each other; they only shared data amongst the partners within the individual ACO.

“It was like herding cats,” Adams said of trying to get health care partners to talk to one another and allow exchange of data between ACOs. “But even cats come to the sound of a can opener. And I knew I had to find the opener. … [I thought] what am I going to do to bring these people together?”

The realization that the ACOs had somewhat missed the point of their inception by not sharing data far and wide, Adams continued to look for ways to improve health information exchanges (HIE). Rhode Island is in fact the only state with a Statewide HIE, she said, which allows health care professionals to access and share patient medical records across settings.

As a patient, resubmitting documents became frustrating as Adams visited multiple doctors, she said. In home health care, shared data between the primary care physician, the hospital and the home health care agency, could many of the issues.

“We’ve got to come together and share the data,” she said. “It’s the least we can do.”

Home Health Care Takeaways

Beyond sharing data widely and freely across appropriate health care settings and channels, Adams found several ways home health care providers can increase their understanding of quality care by looking at the patient perspective:

—Rather than engaging patients, providers should be engaging in the lives of patients, including their personal preferences for how they want to live and be cared for.

—Mind personal experiences for inspiration and guidance when thinking about how to redesign care, as Adams did.

—Think about how to ensure patients that they are part of their care team, such as keeping them in the loop about their records.

Putting more emphasis on the patient perspective could help home health care stakeholders work toward a more perfect care delivery system, particularly as new alternative payment models continue to spread.

“We have got to find a way to have new, fresh experiences … and have a broader understanding of health care,” she said.”

Written by Amy Baxter

Photo Credit:

Amy Baxter on EmailAmy Baxter on Twitter
Amy Baxter
Assistant Editor at Home Health Care News
When not writing about all things home health, Amy fulfills her lifelong dream of becoming a pirate by sailing in regattas and enjoying rum. Fun fact: she sailed 333 miles across Lake Michigan in the Chicago Yacht Club "Race to Mackinac."