[Updated] How BrightSpring Health Services Achieved a 48% Drop in Hospitalizations

Over the past few years, home care has gained more of a foothold on the larger health care continuum. One company, BrightSpring Health Services, exemplifies this evolution in the role of home care. 

Based in Louisville, Kentucky, BrightSpring provides a diverse array of home- and community-based services. It serves more than 350,000 patients across 50 states. 

Last year, BrightSpring was acquired by global investment firm KKR, with Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA) a minority owner. As part of the deal, the company merged with pharmacy giant PharMerica. 


Above all, home care is primarily associated with helping seniors handle their activities of daily living.

While these services are largely non-medical, it’s important for providers to be strategic about the care they provide and take health conditions into consideration, Sherry Pemberton, vice president of sales for BrightSpring, said Thursday during a presentation at the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA) 2020 Virtual Leadership Conference. 

“We have to think differently,” Pemberton said. “What is their health condition? How do I take care of a medically complex person from a non-medical approach? How does that look with the services that my agency provides? How do I make sure that they are not having issues from their medical condition based on the non-medical services that I’m providing?”


For BrightSpring, there are specific models of care that help the company keep seniors out of the hospital. This means managing for medical “red flags,” implementing frequent check-ins and building relationships with the clients and family.  

“As an agency, the services we provide to those clients need to be more than just our caregivers going into that home and fulfilling a checklist of items that we tell them they need to have,” Pemberton said.

One way BrightSpring accomplishes this is by educating its caregivers on what signs and symptoms to look for.

When caring for someone with pneumonia, for example, a caregiver should take notice of things, such as shortness of breath, fever, chills, headaches and confusion, according to Pemberton.

“I go into the home as a caregiver to provide that homemaking or that bath visit, and if these are things that I notice, then that’s when it’s important to make a call to a supervisor and say, ‘I noticed Ms. Smith not feeling well today. … We might want to call her family,’” she said. “By calling their family and providing that intervention as a supervisor, … we’re getting that doctor involved earlier [rather] than waiting so far along into her pneumonia that she ends up in the hospital.”

Along with pneumonia, BrightSpring has also established care models for when a client has diabetes or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Medication reminders are also a part of the company’s care model.

This approach allows BrightSpring to gather data on the company’s outcomes, creating a value proposition that speaks to the impact of their strategy.

As a result of BrightSpring’s models of care, the company saw a 48% drop in hospitalizations in three of its branches. The company also had 107 extrapolated hospital diversions per year that were worth up to $1.14 million in payer cost avoidance.

Ultimately, these outcomes and data are appealing to payers, according to Pemberton.

“That’s non-medical. That wasn’t home health,” she said. “If I go to a payer with that kind of data, they’re going to think it’s a cheaper cost to have somebody in the home.” 

On its end, BrightSpring has already begun to attract attention from payers.

“One of the payers that normally would not even look at us because we’re non-medical saw value in adding the non-medical piece based on the study that we had,” Pemberton said.

*Editor’s note (Oct. 22, 2020): A previous version of this story stated that BrightSpring “was acquired by global investment firm KKR — an affiliate of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.” KKR is not an affiliate of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

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