Have you had a chance to read the recently released National State of the Industry Report for Home Health and Hospice that’s available on the NAHC website? The report looks at trends in technology, agency practices, and outlooks for the future. Three things in particular struck a chord with me as a technology executive.
First, a trend of note is the increase in telehealth adoption (17.1% in 2007 to 28.7% in 2013). The expansion of new payer reimbursements may be responsible for the rise in adoption, as might lower episode costs achieved through the goal of lowering visits. However, the demonstration of better outcomes is not merely a promise – telehealth has delivered on that. SHP national telehealth benchmarks attest to the fact that monitored patients have better outcome scores in most categories, even with something as seemingly removed from monitoring as Activities of Daily Living (see report below).
Second is the acceptance of web-based EHR solutions as the agencies’ software systems. The ability to share data within “Cloud” technology will certainly be an important consideration when partnering with ACOs and Healthcare Systems, and lack thereof could potentially keep you from being chosen as a partner.
Third, the report clearly emphasizes that data--good data, the right data, real-time and actionable data--is and will be foundational to agency success. The report also reflected the ongoing concerns about the future with ACOs, reimbursement cuts and increasing regulations. However, the Triple Aim of the ACA clearly outlines the goals it expects to be achieved, in whatever form that ends up taking: reducing cost, improving quality, and having satisfied patients (beneficiaries). Real-time data does and will continue to play a pivotal role in achieving these goals and tracking ACO patients in a caseload. Identifying patients at risk for hospitalization can’t be done retrospectively. Knowing of situations that require immediate intervention or relocation of resources can’t be managed from the rear-view mirror.
In what will continue to be a time of scarce and shrinking resources, agency leadership should work with their EHR vendors to ensure that everyone in their agency--from their management team to direct care clinicians--have access to current and appropriate data for their role. Leaders should review their processes to ensure their organizations are incorporating that data into both daily work flow and in resource allocation.