The Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) dominated the conversation around home health care in 2019, and thus commanded much of the attention in our collection of Home Health Care News’ top stories of the year. But every year, there are additional, under-the-radar stories that we also find worthy of highlighting on their own list.
These stories, which touch on everything from the largest home health providers to senators sharing their thoughts on the home health industry, are our hidden gems of the past year:
Regulatory changes and renewed interest from private equity firms has greatly impacted the home health market for a few years now. The evidence of that lies in the largest providers of 2019. Kindred at Home, Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) and LHC Group Inc. (Nasdaq: LHCG) were the three biggest providers, according to Atlanta-based data and technology firm LexisNexis Risk Solutions, a part of global analytics company RELX (NYSE: RELX).
In an interview with HHCN, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) explained how she became more passionate about the home health care space. She also expressed reservations about PDGM’s widely opposed behavioral assumptions.
Alliance Homecare was able to triple its revenue by implementing a concierge service, which supplements its personal care, home health care and care management services offerings. The concierge service line is now the company’s main attraction and offers clients weekly care management, meal preparation and social engagement. Several home care providers launched similar high-end concierge offerings in 2019 — a trend likely to continue in 2020.
An unlikely pioneer has been leading the charge in home health innovation: the Department of Veteran Affairs. Despite several controversies surrounding the department over the years, it has quadrupled the number of veterans getting home-based primary care since 2000, and every VA medical center across the country has added a palliative care program. The innovation is driven by a mission-oriented group of people being subjected to budget restraints, a VA rep told HHCN.
When Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed the Long-Term Care Trust Act into law, it was evident that it could mean big business for home care providers. The law requires state residents to pay into a long-term care program through an employee payroll tax and allows eligible individuals access to up to $36,500 for things like in-home care, meal deliveries and home modifications. The first-of-its-kind law recognizes the value of long-term care in bending health care’s cost curve. As the price tag of one-to-one care soars, it’s likely we’ll see additional state-driven policies moving forward.
The Pennant Group (Nasdaq: PNTG) has come to fruition as a spinoff of the Ensign Group (Nasdaq: ENSG); the deal was officially completed on Oct. 1. Now, Ensign’s former home health, hospice and senior living businesses will all be under The Pennant Group’s umbrella as a publicly traded company. HHCN got the spinoff’s full backstory in an interview with CEO Danny Walker.
The issues that home-based care providers are having with recruiting and retaining employees are no secret. Some of the reasons for those issues are out of the agencies’ control, and some are not. Creative pay and benefit plans are among the ways that decisionmakers within the industry can encourage employees to work for them — and stay with them for the long run.
Georgetown Home Care partnered with MedStar Georgetown University Hospital to see if they could help reduce the readmission rate among spinal surgery patients. The pilot program did just that, reducing readmissions by 44%. When the pilot ended, the readmissions went right back up, which led to the two agreeing on a contract to keep Georgetown Home Care working on reducing readmissions at the hospital in the future. The collaboration is yet another example of what home-based care brings to the table when it comes to improving patient outcomes and slashing acute episodes.