[Updated] AccentCare to Form New Post-Acute Care Business with Fairview Health Services

Home health giant AccentCare Inc. is forming a new post-acute care business, building upon its long-time partnership strategy with large health systems.

The Dallas-based AccentCare revealed Tuesday it has been in talks with Fairview Health Services to take over the health system’s home health and hospice business in Minnesota. Under the newly announced deal, AccentCare will take over as majority owner of Fairview’s home health and hospice operations while also becoming the health system’s preferred post-acute care provider.

Upon closing — expected to come on or around Nov. 2 — Fairview will retain a 20% stake in the newly formed post-acute care business, according to the organizations. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

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In many ways, the deal mirrors a broader trend of health systems looking to team up with best-in-class post-acute care operators, AccentCare CEO Steve Rodgers told Home Health Care News.

“A lot of large health systems are thinking about how to best position their post-acute assets — especially home health and hospice — and really modernize them to be able to serve more patients in the home and fit their overall mission,” Rodgers said. “While they want to do this, they don’t want to be an arm’s-length away. They want to stay close to these assets, because they’re so strategically important to them.”

Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems were facing several challenges across their operations. Often, those challenges prevented them from investing the necessary time and resources into their post-acute care divisions.

“They typically don’t make money off of them. They’re almost like operating expenses,” Rodgers said. “But by bringing in an organization like ours, we can actually align these assets and make the investments — because we’ve typically already made them, whether we’re talking about EMRs, clinical systems, clinical programs or how to manage value-based programs.”

LexisNexis data released late last year ranked AccentCare as the fifth-largest home health provider in the country, with an estimated national market share of about 1.63%. In addition to home health care, AccentCare also delivers non-medical home care, hospice, rehab and care management services.

The company — acquired by private-equity firm Advent International last year — cares for more than 145,000 patients annually. Its overall footprint consists of nearly 180 locations across 17 states. 

Based in Minneapolis, the nonprofit Fairview Health Services is a large integrated health system with more than 12 hospitals and medical centers, plus dozens of primary care clinics and pharmacy locations. Fairview, which merged with HealthEast in 2017, has posted revenues between $5 billion and $6 billion over the past few years.

“This is a very good-sized transaction, and it actually becomes one of our largest joint ventures that we have,” Rodgers said. “It expands us into the Midwest, too. We’re very interested in additional opportunities throughout the Midwest.”

AccentCare is particularly excited to have a new hub in Minneapolis, which has “a lot of good health care talent,” according to Rodgers, who lived in the area when he previously served as CEO of UnitedHealth Group’s OptumHealth Collaborative Care business unit. 

Generally, AccentCare’s deal with Fairview will resemble its many other health system arrangements, which include relationships with UCLA Health, Asante, Baylor Scott & White and more. In total, AccentCare has more than 30 strategic partnerships with health systems, insurers, physician groups and other entities.

AccentCare specifically focuses on bigger health systems, Rodgers noted.

“It takes a different competency to work with the large health system, compared to some of the smaller, regional, sub-regional hospital systems out there,” he said. “We want to be able to deploy a full range of resources, to really help the health system both develop a strategy around post-acute care and execute against that strategy. When you look at the economies of scale, it’s much easier to do that and to deploy the resources you need to do that well with a $3 billion, $4 billion or $5 billion system, rather than a ‘several-hundred-million-dollar’ health system.”

On top of adding a new state to AccentCare’s footprint, the Fairview deal comes with an incremental home health census of more than 2,500 patients and an approximate hospice census of 650 patients.

On its end, Fairview leaders say the deal with AccentCare will help the health system deliver quality home health and hospice services at a time when both areas are becoming increasingly specialized.

“Home health and hospice care are extremely specialized areas, both medically and operationally,” Jon Lundberg, president of Fairview Senior Services, said in a press release announcing the news. “We pride ourselves on our commitment to effective and efficient operations across the health care ecosystem, driving a healthier future for all Minnesotans through access to the best care and services available to continuously improve outcomes.”

Lundberg also serves as president and CEO of Ebenezer Senior Living, which is part of Fairview Health Services.

While many health systems have struggled during the public health emergency, COVID-19 was not a major factor in AccentCare’s deal with Fairview, Rodgers said.

In fact, talks started in earnest as far back as last summer.

“It’s been something that’s been evolving for a while,” he said. “These are big courtships that take place.”

AccentCare plans to continue advancing its health system strategy moving forward in 2020 and 2021. At the same time, it immediately remains committed to caring for its current patients throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite COVID-19, our team has really shined this year,” Rodgers said. “We’re just all about building the best business we can for our patients and our partners out there.”

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