Home health and hospice providers in the South have longer average lengths of stay (ALOS) than any other region in the country.
That’s according to the latest quarterly data from PlayMaker Health, a post-acute growth platform serving hundreds of organizations.
In home health, Playmaker’s data shows southern states have an ALOS of 80.4 days, while the West and the Midwest come in at 62.4 days 57.2 days, respectively. Meanwhile, the Northeast saw the biggest disparity comparatively at 49 days, according to second quarter 2018 numbers from the Tennessee-based company.
Regions ranked similarly in terms of ALOS for hospice. In the second quarter, ALOS was 82.2 days in the South, 80.6 in the West, 71.3 in the Midwest and 64.3 in the Northeast.
“The gap between the highest ALOS (South) and lowest (Northeast) was startling,” CEO John Griscavage told Home Health Care News. “That said, the South has the highest case mix weight so would have greater needs for home health services. Many states in the South also have higher incidences of chronic illness, which would play a factor.”
Still, average lengths of stay have decreased nationwide over the past four quarters. This comes after ALOS spiked several years back, Griscavage said, noting that ALOS is now trending back to toward its mean.
While understanding these trends is especially important ahead of PDGM reimbursement changes, so is understanding your unique patient population, Griscavage said.
“With the changes to episodic length from 60 to 30 days, changes to standard LUPA calculations, etc., whether you have a longer or short ALOS, you can be adversely impacted,” he said. “So it is critical to evaluate your own patient/referral population regardless of regional trends.”
Finally, the data indicates marketing opportunities for hospice providers, Griscavage said, as the Midwest, Northeast and South all saw hospice discharge rates above 30% within seven or fewer days.
“A high rate of discharge within 7 days means patients are likely electing the benefit too late,” he said. “They are missing out on many of the key advantages of hospice, and the cases are very expensive to administer. This is an opportunity for your marketers to educate their referral sources.”
PlayMaker partners with WellSky
Also this week, PlayMaker announced a new partnership with WellSky, a health and community care technology company backed by TPG Capital.
The deal combines PlayMaker’s platform with Kansas-based WellSky’s software to offer home health and hospice providers more comprehensive post-acute technology.
“Together, WellSky’s powerful EHR solutions and PlayMaker’s business growth tools empower customers to optimize sales and marketing operations and expand their businesses,” Bill Miller, CEO of WellSky, said in a release announcing the deal.
The news comes less than a week after WellSky acquired Consolo Services Group, which provides healthcare IT services with a focus on hospice.
Previously knowns as Mediware, WellSky is creating a large platform of technologies and services with a focus on the post-acute market, including home health. Its PE backer TPG also is part owner of Kindred at Home, the nation’s largest home health provider.
Written by Bailey Bryant