Home Health Crystal Ball: Executives Predict the Future of 2018

Around the nation, home care and home health executives are looking into 2018 with their eyes wide open.

With major deals being announced at the end of the year, some are expecting greater M&A activity in the year ahead, while others are still on high alert over new regulations.

“I believe 2018 will see the continued expansion of Alternate Payment Models from the government funded programs and Shared Risk Relationships with the commercial payors and ACOs.  I also think we will continue to see the shift away from SNF based care toward home health care.  Finally I expect volumes in both homecare and hospice to continue to expand as the baby boomers continue to age and become closer to the average age of a homecare patient.” —April Anthony, CEO, Encompass Home Health

“It makes so much sense for institutional healthcare to want to have more and more services provided in the home – its where the care recipients want to have care, and its ultimately less expensive.  There are also challenges, like how to ensure quality and how to coordinate care between reimbursed services and non-reimbursed services.  If the push into the home were a baseball game, it seems like we are still in the 3rd inning.  I don’t see all of the challenges being resolved in 2018, but I do think we will get into the middle innings – and alignment on quality will be where the advancement is made.” —Matt Murphy, CEO, Griswold Home Care

“Now that the industry is implementing disruptive care technologies to the fullest, patients will be more empowered—and demand for our services will grow substantially. Today, more and more home health patients are being provided with better communications tools, more access to information, virtual visits, and closer, immediate connections to caregivers and providers. As this new reality grows in home health care, it is creating service that truly supports patients and their ability to thrive in their most sacred space. Home care providers will know more about their patients’ lifestyles and environments and will be able to give them counsel and advice that is more meaningful than ever before. Newly empowered patients in our communities — and those who love them — will see home health as a truly invaluable partner. We’re really going to bridge the gap between our always-noble intentions and the reality of excellence in care provided.”—John A. Capasso, Executive Vice President, Continuing Care, Trinity Health

“In 2018, I predict an increased focus on patient-centered, integrated, collaborative care. Entering a patient’s life and looking at his or her needs holistically can change the face of health care as we know it. I believe we will better engage with our patients, family caregivers, and employees, developing innovative strategies and solutions that leverage both technology and human intervention—resulting in better trained clinicians and improved patient outcomes.” —Jennifer Sheets, Chief Clinical Officer, Bayada Home Health Care

“We are very bullish on 2018 being a great year for home care.  We are seeing Value Based Purchasing models applying pressures to hospitals, and incentives for skilled nursing facilities.  This has made healthcare facilities much more open to collaboration and accelerated the conversations we have been having with them.  Both hospitals and SNF’s have been open to innovative solutions and ideas for providing value and lowering costs.  This appears to us to be the early stages of a fundamental shift in how healthcare is delivered in the U.S.  Good home care companies that can add value should see outsized growth in an already growing industry.” —John Bradshaw, CEO and Founder, Georgetown Home Care

“Our industry is going to need to step up in a major way. Our workforce, the Care Professionals, will likely experience increasing pressure in their personal lives. Already 56% of this nation’s home care workers are on government assistance programs. If those programs are cut or if healthcare becomes less accessible or more expensive, as appears likely to happen, the hardships they experience will undoubtedly increase. As we all know, trouble at home translates to trouble at work. We must keep in mind that the Care Professionals are the heart and soul of our service, and represent the face of the company to our clients. As an industry we must strive to help our Care Pros, who in turn provide critical services to seniors in need. How do we provide Care Pros with the schedules they want? How do we ensure they get the hours of work they need? How do we enable a safety net? And we must do all of this while ensuring that our clients stay in a position where they can afford the care they need. This is one of our core goals for Honor in 2018, as it has been since our inception.” —Seth Sternberg, CEO and Founder, Honor

“In 2018, demand for home care services will continue to rise as growing numbers of seniors nationwide choose to age in place. I believe we will see a growing emphasis in our industry on becoming an ‘employer of choice’ and attracting talented caregivers. Training and technology innovations will improve staff recruitment and retention. As part of the growing focus on the quality of patient outcomes, I also believe we’ll see an increase in partnerships between acute-care hospitals, community physicians, and home health care organizations, and outcomes will continue to play a significant role in home health reimbursement and selection.” —Lawrence P. Kraska, President and Chief Executive Officer, Interim HealthCare

“I anticipate technology innovations will continue to play a major role in shaping the senior care industry, and the way home care companies provide high quality care and services to clients. To that end, our focus at Homewatch CareGivers is on our launch of cutting edge, proprietary software that tracks wellness indicators to provide measurable outcomes that families and referral sources can use to evaluate and select service providers.” —Julie Smith, CEO, Homewatch CareGivers

“We’re in an environment right now where predictions are very, very difficult to make. The fundamentals related to home care and beyond—consumer preference, cost effectiveness—I’d really like to predict that those principles really shine through, through a period of debate around reimbursement, entitlement reform, all the things that I think I would expect to see some discussion and debate, particularly in Congress in 2018. I would predict that there would be additional discussion of health care reform, specifically related to home health and Medicare or Medicaid entitlement reform. But, on the optimistic side, the fundamentals of home care that I mentioned—the demographic swings, cost efficiency, the consumer preference—I hope that that will shine through and minimize or negate any significant legislative action to impact the benefits that we provide to consumers.” —Darby Anderson, chief development officer, Addus HomeCare, Inc.

“For our category, the 2018 outlook is favorable, because we serve an aging population looking for dependable, high quality care so their loved ones can stay at home. For franchising, it depends on how things work out in Washington, D.C. We’re looking for legislation that will remove Joint Employer risk, level the playing field for small businesses on tax reform, and reduce compliance costs and healthcare costs. Increased demand for services leads to new challenges, but we’ve been working on these already: Recruiting of healthcare labor will continue to be a challenge, so we established a new department focused on supporting franchisee efforts to enable enough new employees and programs to retain them.” —Shelly Sun, CEO, BrightStar Care

Written by Amy Baxter

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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."

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