Home health admissions have continued to rebound after experiencing a period of decline prior to the start of 2017. Hospice admissions have also continued a several-months-long run of growth.
Insights into home health and hospice admissions come from analytics and metrics firm Excel Health, which released new data on Tuesday.
Compared to the same period in 2017, the number of hospice patient admissions increased by 3.9% in the first quarter of this year, according to the Excel Health data. Admissions levels for home health patients, in comparison, grew by 1.8%.
“Hospice admissions have been growing pretty steadily over the last eight quarters that we have tracked,” Norbert Hudak, chief marketing and strategy officer at Excel Health, told Home Health Care News. “Home health admissions had actually been declining through Q1 of 2017, but starting in the second quarter of 2017 through the end of the year, we have now seen quarter-over-quarter growth.”
In addition to an increase in hospice and home health admissions, the total number of Medicare beneficiaries also jumped by more than 2% in the first quarter of 2018.
“Patient admissions are growing on the fee-for-service side even while Medicare Advantage is really fueling the growth in Medicare patients,” Hudak said.
Atlanta-based Excel Health is a source for current and complete post-acute outcomes data and performance analytics for the health care industry. The company offers insight into inpatient and outpatient claims data. Excel Health provides growth solutions to its clients that can drive workflows to improve performance, according to the company.
One of the key drivers of growth in hospice admissions is utilization, or the propensity of hospitals and physicians to educate their patients on the benefits of hospice care, according to Hudak.
Hospice outreach and education has become a priority in the United States of late, a point emphasized by the U.S. House of Representatives’ move to pass the widely supported Palliative Care and Hospice Education Training Act in July.
The rebound of home health admissions is also, in part, due to utilization.
“Hospitals, physicians and patients are more accepting of home health as a way to have a better outcome—we know that home health care has a lower readmission rate than other care settings—and the patient can be in the comfort of their own home,” Hudak said. “We see that shift globally to more home-based care alternatives.”
Excel Health plans to release its quarterly Home Health and Hospice Industry Trend report, further digging into the data, in about two weeks. Among its information, the report will include national and by-state growth trends for Medicare beneficiaries, admissions and utilization.
Written by Kaitlyn Mattson