Home Health Providers Excel at Keeping Patients Active

When it comes to the performance of the health care system overall, the United States is a mixed bag, but there’s some good news on the home health front.

Some states—Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont and Utah, in particular—are excelling at providing quality, affordable health care to their residents, a new report has found. Others—Louisiana, Oklahoma and Mississippi, for example—still have a ways to go. Despite the varied success, there’s one area where every single state—and Washington, D.C.—is getting better: home health agencies keeping patients on their feet.

Findings come from the Commonwealth Fund’s 2018 Scorecard on State Health System Performance, a 62-page report released earlier this month that evaluates how well states are providing care. It does so by looking at nearly four dozen key performance indicators related to access, affordability, prevention, treatment, hospital use and general health of residents. The Commonwealth Fund, founded in 1918, is a private foundation dedicated to researching and promoting ways to improving all aspects of the U.S. health care system.

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The percentage of home health patients who got better at walking or moving around—a key measure of quality of care—rose substantially in all 50 states and D.C., according to the report. It was the only one of the Commonwealth Fund’s indicators that saw universal improvement.

While states are seeing improvement in keeping home health patients active, few are actually getting better at keeping home health patients out of the hospital. Only D.C., Maryland and West Virginia saw statistically significant improvement in terms of preventing hospitalizations among home health patients.

Overall, states are not getting a good value for their health care dollars, the report found. Health care spending in the United States remains much greater than in other wealthy countries, but U.S. health outcomes are not better. Additionally, following a long period of decline, premature death rates are flattening or trending upward in many states.

Written by Robert Holly

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