Home Health Users Have Higher Likelihood Of Hospice Utilization

People who receive home health care during the last three years of their lives are more likely to utilize hospice care at the end of life.

That’s according to a recent Rutgers Health study that was published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine. As part of the study, researchers examined a sample of over 2 million U.S. Medicare fee-for-service and Medicare Advantage beneficiaries who passed away in 2019, and were enrolled for at least three years before their death.

What’s more, these older adults were more likely to use hospice compared to individuals who have never used home health care.


Among all of the Medicare beneficiaries that died in 2019, more than a half used hospice care at the end of life, and close to half used home health care, at some point during the last three years of life, according to the study.

The research didn’t identify a reason for why this link between home health and hospice utilization exists, but Olga Jarrín, senior author of the study, believes seniors who are already receiving home health are interacting with nurses that have knowledge of hospice.

Jarrín — who serves as associate professor and Hunterdon Endowed professor of nursing research at Rutgers — also pointed out that these seniors typically have access to primary care.


“People don’t receive home health care unless they have a physician or provider referral, so people that are receiving home health may have stronger primary care to begin with,” she said. “They’re more likely to be having conversations with physicians, and other providers that would also set them up for thinking about advanced care planning and options for palliative and hospice care.”

While it’s common for providers to offer home health and hospice services under one roof, one key takeaway from the study is that there’s a large market for agencies that deliver both.

For agencies that provide these services separately, these findings may open the door for referral relationships, according to Jarrín.

“There are opportunities for hospice providers to get to know the home health agencies and make sure they are aware of those opportunities for referral,” she said.

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