Health care is evolving, and with that evolution, Arnie Cisneros, president of Home Health Strategic Management, believes there is an opportunity for the home health care industry to set itself apart as the go-to vehicle for delivering results-oriented, higher quality, lower cost care.
And where can home health make this impact? In the transition phase, where patients move from hospital to home. Home health care has long served to assist patients in this capacity, but the industry’s ability to be nimble within a changing approach to health care, while promoting the benefits of care and recovery at home, is where the industry can have the broadest impact.
Cisneros points to a patient who was hospitalized five times in one year due to congestive heart failure. What can be done to help this patient at home? What is the most cost-effective way to handle this medical situation? With home health care, a patient with a chronic condition can be educated on why lifestyle changes matter. For the congestive heart failure patient, a home health nurse can provide education on why daily weigh-ins are important, and how that and other information helps the medical staff treat and anticipate complications.
A patient in this situation is typically happier when choosing home care. The patient is more compliant with medical instructions and restrictions, thereby decreasing the chance of re-hospitalization. Cisneros says that home health agencies can set themselves apart by training their nursing and caregiving staff to encourage, prompt, and promote behavior from patients that leads to desired outcomes. Educating patients to understand what is being done during the home care visit is the key to helping patients successfully navigate the transition phase of their post-acute care.
Additionally, Cisneros points to the importance of home health agencies training their staff to strive for 100% accuracy on the Home Health Outcome and Assessment Information Set (OASIS). OASIS contains data items developed for measuring patient outcomes for the purpose of performance improvement in home health care for all adult Medicare and Medicaid patients. Information derived from the OASIS assessment helps determine the care plan for each patient. To improve the accuracy of the information gleaned from the assessment, Cisneros recommends home health agencies focus on the case-mix questions and creating an environment of collaboration between home health, the medical team and the patient.
Looking forward, Cisneros sees the opportunity for home health to be the care delivery forum of the future. For example, if an individual who is part of an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) feels the need to go to the hospital for a health condition, the first step could be a visit from a home health nurse who can determine what type of medical treatment is necessary. In many cases, Cisneros believes individuals can be successfully treated at home. In-home care saves patients time and money, and it gives them the opportunity to receive health information in a timely manner. Scenarios like this provide a cost savings to the ACO as well, allowing their staff to treat the individual at home for a lesser cost, but with the same accountability and quality of service as found in a medical facility.
Cisneros encourages home health agencies to constantly ask themselves “what can be different” in terms of how care is delivered. In asking this question, they can position themselves as the preeminent providers of efficient care in an ever-changing health care market, while delivering patients the ability to remain in their homes.
The Help Choose Home podcast series provides information and resources to help those with a care need learn more about health care at home. Podcasts are hosted by Merrily Orsini, president and CEO of corecubed, a marketing firm dedicated exclusively to home care marketing.
Help Choose Home is a collaborative effort by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), Axxess, and corecubed to educate the public about the many benefits of the in-home care industry, which includes non-medical home care, private duty nursing care, medical home health, hospice, and other in-home health and wellness services.