By Kerin Zuger, Senior Vice President of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships, Right at Home In-Home Care and Assistance
How do we learn to not just coexist, but also leverage each other’s approach and expertise to develop and implement a service delivery model that works?
I’ve had the opportunity to work in the healthcare industry for over 15 years, with the unique experience of playing in both the acute and post-acute worlds. When I moved from the air medical (helicopters) industry to home care (personal/companion) a couple years ago, I anticipated stepping into a world with different needs and different problems to be solved. I was wrong, and frankly, this is the first thing all healthcare executives — skilled and non-skilled, acute and post-acute — need to understand. We are all trying to come up with the solution to the same problem.
As we look at the entire healthcare continuum, the ultimate goal is to get our clients/patients/residents to the right place at the right time for the right level of care, while ensuring they have the best quality of life possible. And if we’re able to do this in the place they call home, stay within their means and create cost efficiencies along the way, we have a huge win.
That said, no single provider can do it alone. No one. Not even Kaiser, Google or Amazon! While all have excellent service delivery models, in this environment of value-based care, it will take a village to deliver better outcomes at lower costs. With the “silver tsunami” coming, there are plenty of people to help — all with different needs and financial means. No single organization has everything it will take to do so alone.
As we look at the arch of aging and the changing needs of our market, there are many complexities, largely effected by social determinants of health. In addition to social dynamics, providers are being forced to do more with less, and “boomer consumers” want more for their dollar. And, let’s not forget about the staffing shortage.
Where do we go from here? We must break down the walls and embrace the dynamics and nuances of healthcare. We need to recognize that we all bring something of value to the table, and therefore, we should all have a seat.
Let’s take home care and home health as an example. While these two fields are different, they are commonly mistaken as one. Home care and home health serve the same population of patients, with the common goal of keeping people in the place they call home for as long as possible.
That said, home health is transactional care, reimbursed by CMS. Home health is more positioned to take on volume business under risk–sharing models, whereas home care is fluid care. Home care is there for long periods of time and provides a huge array of supportive services, mainly around the activities of daily living. Home care is mostly private pay, with few exceptions, and typically, home care is present before, during and after other providers are in and out of the lives of their patients.
Due to the historic nature of the two providers, they seem to have always lived in silos, considering each other referral sources, but not much more. However, the trends in healthcare are now forcing those walls to be broken down. Why? Because it takes a village. Home care needs home health to help retain clients in the home as long as possible and provide resources to clients who are funded by the CMS and that home care cannot provide.
Home health needs home care to fill the gaps. Those social determinants mentioned earlier, they are a major contributor to hospital readmissions, and home care can tell other providers all about them. Home care is the eyes and ears in the home and can fill the gaps with data no one else has, to help home health achieve five stars, participate in ACOs and keep their patients out of the hospital.
Due to the dynamics in today’s market, now is the time to embrace, collaborate, and prosper.