Amedisys Heart Failure Program Cuts Hospital Readmissions

Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) has cut its acute care hospitalization rate over the last two years thanks to a focused program, the company announced Thursday.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Amedisys is one of the nation’s largest home health care providers, serving more than 369,000 patients annually across 432 care centers in 34 states. The heart failure program is among Amedisys’s specialized programs that focus on specific populations, including a COPD clinical program, which launched last year.

Enrollees in the company’s heart failure program, which began in early 2017, were significantly less likely to be hospitalized after 30 days or 60 days after discharge from an acute care hospital compared to counterparts outside the program. Heart failure, a major cardiovascular disease, causes more individuals to be hospitalized than all forms of cancer combined, according to Amedisys. The disease impacts an estimated 5.7 million Americans.

“Heart failure patients tend to go into the hospital far more often [than others],” Susan Sender, RN, Amedisys’ chief clinical officer, told Home Health Care News. “Reducing acute care hospitalizations is what everyone is interested in. Patients want to stay home, families want them at home, and frankly, the healthy system can’t bear the cost anymore.”

High-risk heart failure patients who participated in the Amedisys program had a 5% lower 30-day re-hospitalization rate and an 8% lower 60-day hospitalization rate than patients who did not participate in the program, while moderate-risk heart failure patients had approximately 4% lower 30-day re-hospitalization and 3% lower 60-day hospitalization rates than patients who did not participate in the program.

The hospitalization rate for heart failure patients outside the program is 42%, according to Sender.

The program aims to include patients more actively in their own care. Amedisys clinicians educate patients to manage their heart conditions, including coaching them, setting personal goals, and teaching them to weigh themselves, self-monitor symptoms, stay alert for warning signs and document progress on a checklist.

Undertaking the program requires additional resources from Amedisys, though the hospitalization results are “statistically significant” and likely to continue to improve over time, according to Sender.

“Our [home] visits are a little longer, clinicians are focused [on the diagnosis], we have nursing and therapists in on the cases, and the coordination of care needs to be there,” she said. “All of these things are not just built into the visit, but the plan of care.”

In addition, Amedisys is rolling out a call center, where clinicians will call patients, typically two weeks after discharge from home health care, to check in on them. While Amedisys can’t bill for this additional service—which could lead to further interventions or coordination with physicians if patients are found to be experiencing an exacerbation—the step is part of the company’s overall push toward boosting quality, according to Sender.

The heart failure program includes 22,675 patients across 22 states. The company also stated it saw improvements in outcomes as measured by Quality of Patient Care Star Ratings from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), though the exact impact on star rating is difficult to discern among the numerous measures.

Of Amedisys’ agencies, 89% have a star rating of 4.3 (out of five possible stars), according to Sender. Additionally, 19% are five-star rated; and 60% are above 4.5 stars.

Up next, the company plans to launch a falls risk program to focus on patients at a high risk of hospitalization for falls.

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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