Our weekly list of news, reports, and information about home health and hospice care. Learn about new studies, trends, CMS regulations and more.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday unveiled a new initiative that aims to connect the dots between a patient’s health records held by different providers. The Data at the Point of Care, or DPC, demonstration seeks to bridge the data gap by connecting Medicare’s Blue Button — a tool that allows Medicare patients to download their health records and save them in computer files or apps — directly to a patient’s doctor. A doctor could then see claims data from a patient’s other providers that might not be accessible otherwise. The announcement came at a White House conference of software developers participating in the Blue Button initiative. The initiative is part of the administration’s efforts to help mitigate the fragmentation of the U.S. health care system and encourage doctors to coordinate care.
When it comes to asset valuation, the home health and hospice industries continue to blow the rest of health care out of the water, posting the highest trading multiples sector-wide for the third consecutive quarter. In Q2 2019, home health and hospice had the highest mean trading multiple of 22.7 times EBITDA, up from 21.8 times for the same period in 2018. Meanwhile, the industry-wide mean EV/EBITDA multiple was just 14.9 times. In other words, home health and hospice operations are valued higher than the average health care business.
With just five full months to go before the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM) becomes a reality, home health providers have reached crunch time. As it has been all along, the assumption-based behavioral adjustment baked into PDGM remains the home health industry’s No. 1 issue. Originally, the behavioral adjustment was estimated to create a 6.42% payment cut to providers in 2020; it’s now closer to 8%, thanks to the July 11 proposed payment rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Refining revenue cycle management will be a priority for many providers throughout the remainder of 2019, as will strengthening intake processes and coding capabilities.
It’s no secret that home-based care providers are struggling when it comes to recruiting and retaining employees. In 2018, turnover in the home care industry hit an all-time high of 82%, while home health saw an average turnover rate of about 21.23%. Some factors contributing to the problem — such as the tight labor market — are out of agencies’ control. But others — like ill-fitted compensation and benefit plans — can and should be addressed. “We’re competing with Walmart and Amazon,” said Carolyn Flietstra, executive vice president of home- and community-based services at Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Holland Home and Christian Living Services (CLS). “We use…three compensation methodologies throughout our community services.…Benefits need to be flexible. What works for you, may not work for [someone else].” Flietstra’s comments came last month during a panel discussion at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) Financial Management Conference in Chicago.