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The pursuit of growth is a never-ending journey for home health providers, and there are plenty of ways to err on that pursuit.
Many leaders, through observation and first-hand experience, are able to recognize what should be avoided for companies that are aiming to accelerate.
To get a better understanding of what home health operators need to know when it comes to the right and wrong way to grow, Home Health Care News asked several home health leaders to weigh in.
According to them, the lack of proper training, failure to embrace payer diversification and not taking patient experience into account are all examples of errors that can be detrimental to a company’s growth plans.
Now that health systems and payers unanimously recognize the high value of home health care services, providers like us are in a period of unprecedented demand and rapid growth. Growth brings change, and in organizational psychology, doing new things or more things at a faster rate is going to initially produce anxiety and fear. This is natural and to be expected.
The biggest mistake that home health providers are making in the pursuit of growth is not focusing enough on the activities and behaviors that build trust. Leaders must slow down enough to listen to their teams, address their concerns, and inspire them, and that includes new teams when your growth is acquisitive. We are only as good as our people. They’re our greatest advantage. It’s crucial to take the time to build understanding, trust and buy-in. When you’re doing that right, you can feel the sense of excitement and shared vision, and that’s what it takes to grow and innovate effectively. Speed and success are heavily dependent on going slow, at just the right times.
— Michael Johnson, president of the home health and hospice divisions at Bayada Home Health Care
The constant pursuit of traditional Medicare is by far the biggest mistake being made today. These patients are becoming scarce and are already scarce in many MSAs, yet even the best and most well-run providers are continuing to spend resources competing for a shrinking subset of endangered Medicare patients. This may make sense financially in the short-term, yet long-term, it more than exacerbates the cost-structure problem. The powers that drive the U.S. health care market: MedPAC, CMS, legislators from both parties, and the American health care consumer, are demanding lower cost of care. Providers who are busy fundamentally restructuring their back-office support and veraciously streamlining workflow will not only survive, but flourish in the new reality of Medicare Advantage home health.
— Brent Korte, CEO of Frontpoint Health
In my opinion the biggest mistake that home health care providers are making in their pursuit of growth is – based on our own experience and growth pains – a come one, come all approach to both patients and clinicians. We want to help all patients to the best of our ability as caregivers and agencies, but what if the patient’s in-home support system is not sufficient, or a patient is better suited for a long-term care facility? Unfortunately, physical decline or dissatisfaction could be a result of a patient simply not being placed in the health care venue that best meets their specific care needs.
When it comes to new clinicians, it is best to really spend time in the onboarding process to determine mutually-beneficial assessments of focus, fit and future. Is home health care the best career fit, is the focus on continuous learning and growth, and how about the future? Are we meeting each other’s expectations as an employer and employee? Disappointment is often the realized gap between expectations and reality.
— Cleamon Moorer Jr., president and CEO at American Advantage Home Care
A mistake companies make when seeking growth is not investing the time and effort to ensure that staff providing care have a high-level of training and skill that will assure high-quality care. This includes training around the structure of each visit to ensure that all the areas they should touch on with the patient are addressed consistently and at each visit. Due to OASIS-E, skill in assessment and in high-quality documentation is more important than ever.
Oftentimes when we are growing there is such pressure to keep up with volume that we put people out in the field without the depth of preparation needed to help them succeed, and to support our care quality. It is a tough place to be because there are consequences to turning down referrals, but I think we have to be careful not to lose sight of what will sustain our agency over the long-term – and that is quality and patient satisfaction.
— Susan Ponder-Stansel, president and CEO of Alivia Care Inc.
As an industry, we love to talk about “quality” and focus on what we get paid for — or get dinged for. However, what we are missing is a view of the overall patient journey. What all of us in home care really need to do is to understand the patient’s experience so we can add value to that journey. While a patient is in our care, we have such a terrific opportunity to help them in so many ways. These are things that could keep them living safely at home, out of the hospital, and experiencing their best possible lives.
If our industry pays attention to the entire patient experience, and delivers it well, we will see word-of-mouth drive our business toward sustainable growth. Patients and family members will demand our services. People will inform their providers. It’s the same for payers. When home care providers deliver that excellent experience for plan members, they become more valuable to the payers as well.