More than half of home-based care providers said that diversifying service lines of care would enable them to develop strategic partnerships with referral sources and see it as an opportunity to increase revenue.
At the same time, 30% of providers say that their organization is not considering diversifying service lines.
That’s according to a new survey from Axxess and SimiTree that includes responses from thousands of home-based care providers.
“Diversification of a service line is really about providing the right level of care at the right time,” Christina Andrews, senior director of professional services with Axxess, told Home Health Care News. “Having the ability to transition a patient and their health care journey enables them to be more financially stable, especially for smaller organizations.”
Dallas-based Axxess is a home health technology company that provides agencies with cloud-based software solutions.
Diversifying service lines can make a home-based care provider more attractive to health systems as they look to partner with providers.
“It enables organizations to position themselves as the provider of choice,” Andrews said. “I don’t like to use this term often, but it’s like a one-stop shop. A health system can pick up the phone and call a provider and know that an organization is going to be able to manage their patient throughout their entire journey.”
It’s also a way for providers to be more attractive to both payers and to the community as a whole, Andrews said.
“If your organization provides multiple service lines, it’s easier for a community to recommend a home care provider because they see that one name [and recognize it],” Andrews said. “Data has also become extremely important as it relates to the overall assessment of community needs. When providers are looking at how they can penetrate a market or improve their market share, there’s data out there to help them make those assessments.”
Whether it be diagnoses in a certain county or rehospitalizations in a specific area, providers should be tuned into as much information as they can in order to grow and stay profitable.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 56.8 million people — including 25.7 million in the last year of life — are in need of palliative care. Only 14% receive it.
“If organizations say, ‘Well, if we stand up a palliative care service line, we can improve that percentage of people receiving palliative care,’” Andrews said. “At the same time, it would help them to transition those individuals into a hospice service line, thus providing better margins. At the end of the day, it’s about the patient and them getting the right level of care at the right time, but it also gives organizations financial stability.”
Overall, the two main takeaways from the survey are the ongoing challenges with workforce scarcity and addressing those needs while navigating a changing landscape in home-based care.
Between value-based purchasing, OASIS-E implementation, payment recalibration related to the home health final rule and an increase in compliance and audit scrutiny, home-based care providers have a lot on their plate.
All of that is on top of the ever-present elephant in the room.
“What continues to stand out for us is the workforce scarcity in the home care industry,” Andrews said.
More than 43% of respondents said the biggest challenge they will face in 2023 is recruitment and retention. Reimbursement rates (24.6%) and compliance scrutiny (8.5%) followed behind.
Technology, Andrews said, can play a big role in easing those workforce concerns.
“That’s where technology’s role really comes into play,” she said. “Helping organizations optimize within all areas of operations: clinical, financial, education, onboarding, training, helping maintain that consistent, standardized approach.”
Implementing productivity standards, continually analyzing payer rates and assessing technology partners are just three of the many practices to consider for providers for the rest of 2023.