Home health partnerships are more diverse – and perhaps more vital – than ever.
This can mean home health providers teaming up with health systems or high-acuity care companies. This can even mean high-acuity home-based care companies helping health systems, and hospitals extending their brick-and-mortar capabilities into the home setting.
With partnerships showing up in so many different ways, the question of what makes a good partnership is top of mind for many health care organizations.
“It’s about really understanding each other’s roles and understanding clinical protocols together,” Kevin Riddleberger, chief strategy officer at DispatchHealth, said last week at Home Health Care News’ Capital + Strategy conference. “How do we continue to look at improving on different patient cases together, sending clinical data back and forth. That’s where we get the best outcomes with our partnerships with home health agencies.”
Originally launched as an in-home urgent care startup, Denver-based DispatchHealth delivers higher-acuity care, including offering hospital-level care, in the home. The company operates across 30 states in the U.S.
DispatchHealth is a company that is uniquely positioned. Sometimes DispatchHealth partners with home health providers, and other times the company is the at-home component in its partnerships with other health care organizations.
Resilient Healthcare — a Plano, Texas-based home-centered management services organization — partners with both payers and hospitals to enable them to provide high-acuity care.
“[In hospital partnerships], we’ll set up the technology and integrate with their EMR,” Resilient CEO Jackleen Samuel said during the panel discussion. “If they want to do the Medicare waiver program for hospital-at-home, we will set that up as well. We do a lot of transitional care with those hospitals, outpatient at-home, chronic care management, and then we’ll manage those models for them if they need it.”
In Resilient’s partnerships with payers, the company takes on risk. In these arrangements, Resilient provides the care – leveraging their software – and brings on home health agency partners to dispatch clinicians to the home.
For MedStar Georgetown Hospital, a partnership with a home health organization helped the hospital tackle readmissions.
“Four years ago, we reviewed some data, and realized we really had the opportunity to reduce our readmissions in a certain population of patients,” Amber Pennel, director of case management at MedStar Georgetown Hospital, said. “We partnered with a home health care company and worked through them, establishing a nurse practitioner program that would come in and see patients in the home for two to four weeks post-discharge.”
D.C.-based MedStar Georgetown Hospital is a 400-bed, non-profit teaching hospital that has strategic service lines in transplant hepatology, orthopedics, neurosurgery and neurology. The organization is also a designated comprehensive stroke center.
Though these kinds of partnerships can be a value-add, there are some roadblocks that get in the way.
“Staffing continues to be an issue with the relationships in the rural areas, not offering services that the patient needs continue to be a challenge,” Pennel said. “One of the bigger challenges, in my opinion, is that the information doesn’t always get back to the patient’s medical record, or to the provider in a timely and meaningful way, to really impact change.”
The dynamic between home health providers and Medicare Advantage plans can also be a barrier, according to Riddleberger.
“We have home health agencies that have a lot of great benefits, from a reimbursement perspective, looking at straight Medicare patients,” he said. “Then you have this big growth happening in Medicare Advantage and an opportunity to be able to intervene on them, but how do home health agencies make it appealing to work with those Medicare Advantage plans, and to be able to offer services, and how do we all work together?”
Ultimately, partnerships are the “lifeblood” of a company like Resilient, and will continue to be a key component of their business model moving forward.
“[Partnerships] allow us to scale faster and take on bigger clients,” Samuel said. “We have a value-based agreement in Texas that covers 13,000 lives. They’re about to be at 30,000 lives next quarter, and we take on the sickest, highest-utilizing patients. We can because we’re partnering with home health agencies.”