Medicare Advantage, workforce shortages, audits and regulatory updates continue to dominate many of the conversations HCHB customers are having within the home-based care industry. Check out the highlights below to get caught up on the latest industry news.
HCHB Hospice Customers Discuss VBID and Hospice Trends
AccentCare, Compassus and Traditions Health leaders weighed in on the future of value-based care and partnerships with MA payors in a recent Hospice News article. “The reality is, with that continued growth, they still have not evolved their strategies very effectively around how they’re engaging with home-based care companies,” Steve Rodgers, CEO of AccentCare shared in his interview. “Especially with some of the pressures coming out of Washington associated with the rate environment and everything else, there just needs to be a different level of engagement.”
Traditions Health CEO, David Klementz added “We don’t shy away from managed Medicare. It’s coming; we’re embracing it. We need to be paid appropriately for the level of care we provide, and that’s got to be a collaboration with managed care. And they should, in return, expect certain quality results from us. I think the space in general needs to learn to navigate that different business model.”
Jordan Holland, vice president of value-based contracting for Compassus shared his approach to working with MA payors. “First, listen to them, what’s important to your MA plan, partner, then help them develop the right solution — actually help them meet the goals and the objectives of the program, which is increased hospice access, increased length of stay, which decreases total cost of care, which is a lot of what they want.” Read the full article here.
Stacie Bratcher, CEO of Jet Health weighed in on changing mindsets in 2023. “And our patient population even looks a little different in some of the complexities that they have and some of their educational opportunities. We really look at diversity and inclusion in our patient population and their families, trying to educate them on services. We are really changing our mindsets and the way that we’ve operated in the past, embracing technology and really being open to new creative ideas that would enhance quality of life.”
Heath Barness, CEO of St. Croix Hospice and spoke about focusing on what doesn’t change. “We want to make a difference. We want to impact the lives of not just our patients, families, not just the other caregivers, but our team members. Our team members need to be cared for because they’re giving everything they have to these patients and families, and it’s emotional and impactful.”
Barbara Jacobsmeyer, CEO of Enhabit, Inc. shared these sentiments “We’re working to create “Stability” in 2023 by continuing to provide the best care to our patients and investing in the well-being of our employees.” Read the rest of the article here.
HCHB Customers Invest in New Technology
In 2021, Transitions Hospice invested in a remote patient monitoring program to help observe changes in its patients’ conditions. “This has really helped the patients feel at ease and reduce a lot of those unnecessary emergency department visits and rehospitalizations.” Stated Trish Benson, Transitions Home Medical Group President. Hospice Care of South Carolina added predictive analytics to its technology solutions in 2020. Silverado Hospice has also revealed a plan to utilize AI tracking for locating job candidates. Read the full article here.
HCHB Customers Talk Staffing, MA & Audits
Hospice News interviewed several industry leaders about their staffing and regulatory insights. CEO Barbara Jacobsmeyer highlighted an important staffing shift that Enhabit has seen in the industry. “Historically, we very much focused on most of our staff, who were all full-time. What we’re seeing is this shift of employees wanting more part time and [pro re nata (PRN)]. So we have to change the local mindset, making sure that everyone in each of our local areas knows the headcount they need.”
Health Bartness, CEO of St. Croix Hospice tackled the sticky subject of MA partnerships. “We need to be able to show others outside of the bureaucratic government agencies that we are a great value, and I think that we could work probably better with the payers, to show not just the financial impact, but ultimately, the quality of care impact.”
Stacie Bratcher, CEO of Jet Health weighed in on the increased oversight that has been seen within the hospice industry. “We’ve seen a lot of regulatory oversight, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. We’ve seen a lot of new hospices kind of pop up in [non-certificate-of-need] states, and we think more oversight of that is good. With patients, you always want to have high compliance.”
Traditions Health CEO David Klementz agrees. “If we self-reflect as an industry, there are some things that need to be cleaned up. We need to make sure people are getting into the space that want to professionalize high-quality care, not just to grow and flip a business.” Read the rest of the article here.
Scott Powers, CEO of Elara Caring added his voice to the MA conversation in an episode of HHCN+ Talks. Powers has a background in MA and worked for a payor for 10 years before joining the Elara Caring team. He explained that their payor strategy “includes Medicare typically upfront, and then it second goes to who are the payers that want to go on this ride from a value-based perspective and share in that value. We’ve been very deliberate about making sure our mix is appropriate. As we grow along with the Medicare Advantage business, it’s really growing in a value-based way. What we mean by that is someone who wants to share in those outcomes when we produce great outcomes. Things like case-rate models with upside capabilities, those are all very specific things that we’re driving, and we’re making sure that we have payers who want to have direct relationships with us rather than push us through a convener or utilization management-type process.” Read the full article here.
LHC Group Purchase Completed
LHC Group has officially become part of Optum Health. United Health’s $5.4 billion purchase of the company has been completed. The LHC Group has 527 home health locations, 159 hospice locations and 11 long-term acute care hospitals. 264 of these locations are joint venture partnerships. Read the rest of the article here.
Gentiva Purchases ProMedica’s Heartland Hospice
Gentiva has announced its purchase of ProMedica’s Heartland home health and hospice assets for $710 million. This acquisition will add 15 home health agencies to the company’s assets. “Gentiva will gain the additional scale needed to expand into new markets, bolster our palliative capabilities, accelerate innovation, and continue adding to our clinical care team, all of which will help provide even more patients with our high-quality care.” Read the full article here.
CenterWell Home Health Growth and New Leaders
CenterWell Home Health’s admissions are up 6.3% for the full year, in line with Humana’s expectations. The company has also hired a new President, Dr. Sanjay Shetty and George Renaudin is shifting to focus on the Medicaid space for Humana. “While we have strategies in place to continue to take share in fee-for-service Medicare, we do acknowledge it is a shrinking market with the increasing penetration of Medicare Advantage. Accordingly, our projected admission growth for 2023 reflects a slight decline in fee-for-service Medicare admissions year over year, more than offset by strong growth in Medicare Advantage.” Humana CFO Susan Diamond’s 2023 expectations are in line with the company’s plan to have 40% of MA members in value-based models by 2025. Read the full article here.
April Anthony, a home health industry titan, and founder of Homecare Homebase is launching a new home-based care venture. Vital Caring Group will offer home health care, hospice care, pediatric home care and companion care and has 74 locations across six states. The company’s leadership is a group of well-known members of the industry including President, Luke James, Chris Walker as COO, Jessica Vogt as CFO and Janice Riggins as Chief Clinical Officer. Read the rest of the article here.
April Anthony broke her silence about the launch of the company in an article with Home Health Care News. “It is definitely reinvigorating [to be back]. I enjoyed my 15 months or so that I took off, but my golf handicap dropped from an 8 to a 5, and then it just leveled off there – it would not get any better. So, I’m glad to get to some place where every day I can make things better.” The ownership of the business is split evenly between Anthony, The Vistria Group and Nautic Partners. “I think [an IPO] is probably not a likely outcome in the near term,” she said. “I’ve loved being a private company CEO for a lot of years. And I think, when I look at where we are as an organization, we have a lot of opportunities to grow within our current sponsor group.” Read the full article here.
AccentCare’s Expanding Partnerships with Hospitals and Private Pay
Steve Rodgers, CEO of AccentCare spoke with Home Health Care News about the organization’s growth strategies during the Home Care 100 Conference. JV partnerships are the company’s main focus for growth in the coming year. The goal is to create “anchor partnerships” with large health systems. Rodgers cited the current partnership with Baylor Scott & White as a success story. Another key anchor business for Accent Care is private pay de-novos that help create a holistic solution for patients in the home. Read the full article here.
AccentCare Shares Telehealth Study Results
Daniel Kevorkian, VP of clinical innovation and technology at AccentCare co-authored a study with Sound Physicians that examined the effect telehealth had on care. Results showed that telehealth helped improve timely initiations of care and avoid home health service denials. “By leveraging telehealth to connect the patient, clinician and physician, we found that our clinicians were able to immediately meet the needs of our complex patients by developing the plan of care along with the physician and patient in real-time.” The study publishes results from a six month pilot program that served nearly 300 patients. During this pilot, timely initiation of home health care was received 98.6% of the time, higher than the national average. The study recommends the “widespread utilization of telehealth physician coordination”. Read the rest of the article here.
New JV Partnerships for Amedisys’ Hospital at Home Division
Amedisys owned hospital at home provider, Contessa has established another JV partnership. The new agreement is with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (VMFH) and will be used to establish the VMFH Home Recover Care program for St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington. The new program will serve Medicare patients with conditions such as COVID-19, RSV, pneumonia, COP, CHF and urinary tract infections. Contessa has been shown to lower readmission rates by 44% and decreases the mean length of a hospital stay by 35% in previous partnerships. Read the rest of the article here.
Amedisys also announced a new partnership with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to provide palliative care. CEO Paul Kusserow shared his thoughts on the deal. “As one of our first arrangements of this kind, it accelerates Amedisys’ strategic goal of moving to mutually beneficial, risk-based models with payers.” The partnership will focus mostly on caring for patient with complex conditions like heart failure and cancer. The company expects several more partnerships for Contessa this year in the form of JV partnerships and agreements with Medicare Advantage plans. Read the full article here.
Amedisys Sells Personal Care Division to HouseWorks
Amedisys announced that it has signed an agreement to transfer its personal care division to HouseWorks for $50 million. “We strongly believe in the value of personal care and this divestiture allows our personal care division to grow under a proven leader in the industry while Amedisys focuses our attention on our core business units of home health, hospice and high-acuity care.” Amedisys provides personal care across 3 states and 13 care centers. HouseWorks provides personal care and home-modification services. The two companies will continue to work together through a care coordination partnership moving forward. Read the full article here.
Elara Caring Hires 3 More Strategic Leaders
After the appointment of a new CMO last month, Elara Caring has announced the addition of three more leaders. Shane LuQuire, vice president of hospice sales, Chris Corrigan, general counsel and Matt McClasky senior VP of business development have all joined the Texas-based provider. “The addition of these top-flight professionals reflects our ongoing momentum as well as our commitment to fostering an environment in which the very best people seek to build and grow their careers. Elara continues to build and develop its robust bench of talent as we look to again set the pace in the industry, expanding access to compassionate, value-based, high-quality home care,” shared Elara CEO Scott Powers. Read the full article here.
Elara Caring Technology
Elara Caring’s approach to technology was highlighted in a recent Homecare Mag article. The company shared their goal to “create one of the most technologically advanced platforms in the country and to significantly improve clinical outcomes while enhancing the patient experience.” The organization provides home health, hospice, personal care, behavioral health and palliative care services to over 60,000 patients. The technology-focused approach has yielded results for the company. “We have doubled the number of average touchpoints received by home health patients while reducing costs by 25% and cutting our hospital readmission rate by more than 50%”, stated Regis Zamudio, vice president of ElaraConnect. “We have also been heralded by patients, clients and families, who have awarded Elara a Net Promoter Score of 89—an indication of customer appreciation and loyalty unheard of in the home health arena.” Read the rest of the article here.
Pennant Shares Its Progress and Goals for 2023
CEO, Brent Guerisoli outlined the four areas the company is focusing on in 2023. These key initiatives include: clinical outcomes, operating margins, growth and employee experience. The Pennant Group provides services through 89 home health and hospice agencies, 49 senior living communities with a CMS star rating of 4.3 and a real-time 60-day hospitalization rate of 12.1%. “Our home health and hospice leaders continued to drive solid clinical and financial results, including improvement in average star ratings and hospitalizations, which contributed to double-digit top-line and bottom-line growth.” Read the full article here.
St. Croix Hospice Adds De Novo Location
St. Croix Hospice announced the launch of its 14th location in Wisconsin. The location will serve the Chippewa Falls community. CEO Health Bartness commented on the new location opening. “We have been serving the state of Wisconsin for many years, continuing our long tradition of exceptional patient care. That reputation of excellence leads more patients, families and facilities to seek our services.” Read the full article here.
Enhabit Tackles Headwinds with New Strategies
Enhabit, Inc. burst onto the scenes in a year of drastic changes. The company has experienced some significant headwinds, but is focused on the long game. CEO Barbara Jacobsmeyer outlined several strategies the company has implemented to mitigate industry challenges. The company added to key members to the leadership team to focus on human resources and payor innovation. “Our chief human resources officer has worked with our data and analytics team to develop a robust human capital dataset. This is allowing us to drill down on understanding what’s happening with our workforce and what we need to do to recruit and retain our staff.” The company recently signed several new agreements with MA payors and is looking forward to discovering the fruits of these deals. “Each successful agreement creates an opportunity for us to be a stronger resource to our referral sources. It creates access for patients to Enhabit’s home health care, and, in turn, the outcome data we need to continue to reinforce our value proposition with the payers.” Read the rest of the article here.
Healing Hands Healthcare and Amedisys Tackle MA Negotiations
Medicare Advantage is becoming a larger part of the payor mix for many states. Many providers including Healing Hands Healthcare are working to create relationships with MA payors that are advantageous on both sides. “Health care is full of great people, but from a provider standpoint, Medicare Advantage is really hard to deal with…We had to add new people for every 20 or 30 Medicare Advantage patients we took. You have to compile all the audits, do the appeals, file the appeals and then they still don’t pay…We’re competing against these payors and we have to join forces. There are lives caught in the middle, but it’s not just the patients. If we continue to lose funding and we’re not in a place where our employees can enjoy their lives, if they don’t have great benefits or they can’t thrive, then we’re not going to be able to sustain. You have to know who you’re fighting for and that includes the people that you show up for and that come to work every day.” Read the rest of the article here.
Paul Kusserow, CEO of Amedisys also touched on some of the challenges that arise when negotiating with MA payors. “For those plans that continue to view us as simply as a cheap per-visit provider and won’t recognize that labor inflation is real, and try to simply cram lower rates and lower utilization on us — we will no longer be working with them,” he said. “We just can’t afford to, we have a finite amount of clinical capacity.” Read the full article here.
Traditions Health Discusses SNF Partnerships
David Klementz, CEO of Traditions Health spoke with Hospice News about SNF facilities creating hospice service lines. “If you think about how they’ve taken on strains in their capacity, these post-acute services – home health and hospice – they can get patients out of very expensive settings. I don’t shy away from them getting into the space, as long as their quality of care and coordination of care with other settings is appropriate so the patient is getting the right outcome for their episode.” Read the full article here.
Jet Health Shares Workforce Changes and Personal Care Expansion News
Jet Health is differentiating itself as an employer by beefing up benefits packages, creating pathways for career growth and creating specialized training opportunities for nurses transitioning from facility to home-based care. When asked about growth opportunities for the company, CEO Stacie Bratcher expressed enthusiasm around its growing personal care service line. “Sometimes there’s a gap in what skilled home health or hospice can cover. That personal care business opportunity can provide some of those pieces in order to keep that individual in the home. That personal care is the piece that’s missing. For us, really looking at the opportunity to expand our personal care services is exciting for us this year.” Read the full article here.
In addition to the personal care expansion, Jet Health is working to establish partnerships with behavioral and mental health providers. ““I think some of the trends include behavioral and mental health and the factors that affect our patients and families, even prior to qualification for hospice services. We’re seeing a lot of chronic illness, and because the physicians who are treating those patients often don’t really understand the value of hospice, we often see those referrals come in the last 14 days of life.” Read the rest of the article here.