Care coordination has become a buzzy term in home-based care of late.
Generally, care coordination aims to both connect home care to the broader health care ecosystem and close gaps in care for the patients.
It’s a big idea, but when done right, it can help engage caregivers, promote growth and act as an attractive portfolio arm to payers and other partners, Julie McCarter, the president of care coordination at the Chicago-based Help at Home, told Home Health Care News.
“Early indications suggest the Help at Home’s innovative care coordination program is showing positive impacts on clients, caregivers and the health plans that contract with us,” McCarter said.
A home- and community-based services provider, Help at Home has 180 branch locations across 12 states. Its network includes more than 65,000 clients and 50,000 caregivers.
Most recently, Help at Home acquired two Midwest-based home care companies: the Ohio-based Berkshire Homecare and the Indiana-based My Care at Home.
McCarter said that the company’s core philosophy makes Help at Home an ideal value-based care partner.
As states around the country are working to find ways to enhance the overall care experience for people eligible for long-term services and supports (LTSS), Help at Home feels like it is in a prime position to take advantage.
“We see more states and [managed long-term care plans] interested in how our innovative program connects home care to health care for Medicaid and dually-eligible populations to positively impact quality and lower cost outcomes,” McCarter said.
She pointed to the recent acquisition in Indiana as an example. That deal coincides closely with Indiana’s planned transition to managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS) in 2024.
During a panel discussion at HHCN’s FUTURE event in Nashville, McCarter spoke about how important it is for providers to be opportunistic.
Whether that be in discussions with payers or implementing an innovative program like care coordination, it’s important to not sit on the sidelines, she said.
Help at Home, for instance, is partnering with a Pennsylvania-based managed MLTSS plan to implement care coordination across a shared high-acuity cohort of customers.
“We’re optimistic about the opportunities for our care coordination program to align with a managed care entity’s value-based goals,” she said. “We are seeing our reach and impact with over 80% engagement with this population in our program.”
Of that population, 40% have entered into “needed primary care, specialty and behavioral care and annual wellness visits,” McCarter said.
Help at Home has also put a priority on caregiver empowerment and engagement.
“Our caregivers seem happier, too,” McCarter said. “One of Medicaid’s goals is to stabilize the home care workforce and our program does this by supporting caregivers. We’ve learned that the majority of the caregivers in our program are more concerned about their client’s health than their own. That’s why the program includes regular outreach to caregivers to proactively understand their well-being and connect them to services and supports based on the feelings expressed.”
Caregiving can often be a lonely and thankless job. Being aware of a caregiver’s needs can go a long way.
“We’re attentive to the caregiver — as well as the client — acting as a listening ear and easing the burden of their role,” McCarter said. “We elevate and optimize the caregiver role by providing a village of support to them through social workers, nurses and community health workers. We believe this leads to greater satisfaction scores and tenure.”
The efforts, McCarter said, have paid off.
Help at Home has grown its caregiver base from 28,000 in 2020 to more than 53,000 in 2023. Additionally, nearly half of Help at Home’s administrative and management staff started their careers as caregivers.
“We elevate and optimize the caregiver role by providing a village of support to them through social workers, nurses and community health workers,” McCarter said. “We believe this leads to greater satisfaction scores and tenure.”