Friday, June 29, 2007

How's Your Quality . . . compared to the industry?

Our friend Bob Fazzi and his team just released their chart showing the national Home Health Compare scores for June, 2007, and their estimate of the 80th Percentile scores.

How are you doing compared to these national numbers?

We have heard some interesting debate about the value of using Home Health Compare scores as a source of competitive advantage when selling your home care services to physicians. One viewpoint is that having the data to support your message about quailty of care can be persuasive. The other viewpoint that we have heard from physicians is that they don't trust the data, they think agencies can game the system, and that it's not a good measure of home health quality.

What do you think? Do you have any evidence that physicians or hospital discharge planners pay attention to your Home Health Compare scores?

Give us your comments below.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Canadian Home Care Association to Advance Information Technology Agenda in Home Care

OTTAWA, June 26 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Home Care Association (CHCA) has entered into a partnership with Canada Health Infoway to lead a national project on technology in home care. The project - Integration through Information Communication Technology in Home Care in Canada - will begin immediately and will result in a better understanding for the potential of and readiness for information communication technology (ICT) in the home care
sector across Canada.

The Project will support the CHCA's goal of building a national knowledge base on technology in the home and community sector and exploring challenges and opportunities for current and future applications.

"As Canada's population continues to age and grow, Canadians will increasingly rely on home care services to meet their health care needs," said Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway, a federally funded not-for-profit organization which invests with public sector partners to accelerate electronic health records across Canada. "Our ultimate objective through this investment is to help increase access to home care by fostering more efficient ways to deliver care through technology."

Key components of the project include surveying home care experts across Canada, hosting a pan-Canadian roundtable and sharing knowledge at a special workshop at the CHCA's Home Care Summit in December.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What do you think about "Sicko?"

Michael Moore's new film, "Sicko" comes out this week. Filled with specific examples of how individuals have been deprived of health care services because of their lack of insurance coverage, or attempts by insurers to deny claims, the film makes its points with great emotion.

What is your take on "Sicko?" Is our healthcare system really as bad as Michael Moore protrays it to be? Is the insurance industry really the problem?

What would health care in America look like if Moore's prescription were followed? What is your personal experience with national health care systems in other countries such as Canada, Great Britain, France, or Greece? Would you perfer a nationalized health care system like some of these other countries? How would you like the healthcare system of Cuba ... and their lifestyle to go with it?

What would be the implication for home care if we were to adopt a nationalized health care system?

Add your comments below. We'd love to hear your perspective.

Family Caregiving Costs Employers $33 Billion Annually

WASHINGTON, June 25 (UPI) -- At-home caregiving costs U.S. businesses up to $33 billion yearly in lost productivity as caregivers take time off from work, AARP said Monday.
For caregivers with the most intense responsibility, 92 percent said they have had to make major changes to their working patterns; 83 percent report arriving late to their jobs, leaving early or taking time off during the day; 41 percent say they had to take a leave of absence; and 37 percent report having to pare down their jobs to part-time to accommodate their care-related duties.

Moreover, the caregiver's own health is often at risk, the survey also suggested.
Against that backdrop, the study also found that informal caregivers' contribution had an economic value last year of $350 billion.

Source: AARP

As leaders in home health care, this information suggests that we need to let more of the major employers in our communities know about the benefits of home health care. One of our home health care clients actually has a home care service that they sell to employers, that will provide non-medical caregivers, or nurses if needed, to care for an elderly person so their son or daughter can go to work as planned.

Employers find that making this investment in home care services for their employees more than pays for itself in savings from lost productivity, tardiness, or absenteeism of valued employees.

What success are you having with employers in your community to provide home care support to their employees? Let us know by adding your comments below.

Home Care on top of the list of Top Twelve Jobs for growth in U.S.

A recent report by the U.S. Department of Labor reinforces our projection that home care related jobs will continue to be in great demand, and that recruiting and retention will be the major strategic issues facing home care executives who want to grow their businesses.

If you want to grow your business, you need to get better at recruiting and retention.

Here are the Top Twelve Jobs for Growth between 2004 and 2014 on the Labor Departments list:

  1. Retail Sales - need 736,000 or 17.3% growth
  2. Registered nurses - need 703,000 or 29.4% growth
  3. College teachers - need 524,000 or 32.2% growth
  4. Customer Service Representives - need 471,000 or 22.8% growth
  5. Janitors - need 440,000 or 18.5% growth
  6. Waiters and Waitresses - need 376,000 or 16.7% growth
  7. Food Service Workers - need 367,000 or 17.1% growth
  8. Home Health Aides - need 350,000 or 56% growth
  9. Nursing aides, orderlies, attendants - need 325,000 or 22.3% growth
  10. General and operations managers - need 308,000 or 17% growth
  11. Personal and Home Care Aides - need 287,000 or 41% growth
  12. Grade school teachers - need 265,000 or 41% growth

As you can see, the two fastest growing occupation by % are Home Health Aides at 56% and Personal and Home care aides at 41%.

For information on how Leading Home Care can help you develop your recruiting and retention plan, vist our web site.

Friday, June 08, 2007

60% of Certified Home Health Agencies are participating in the 2007 Home Health Quality Improvement National Campaign

BALTIMORE, June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In less than four months, 5,000 home health agencies have signed up to participate in the 2007 Home Health Quality Improvement (HHQI) National Campaign. This represents more than 60 percent of all Medicare-certified home health agencies in the country.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and Quality Insights of Pennsylvania, the Home Health Quality Improvement Organization Support Center (HHQIOSC), launched the HHQI National Campaign at CMS headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland on January 11, 2007. Since the launch, CMS, national stakeholders and individual Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) have worked closely to implement an extensive educational campaign aimed at reducing avoidable acute care hospitalizations in the home health setting. The purpose of this unified effort is to assist patients with remaining in their homes when it is appropriate, increase patient satisfaction, improve quality, and reduce health care costs.

The Home Health Quality Improvement National Campaign was founded by key home health stakeholders: National Association for Home Care and Hospice; American Association for Homecare; Visiting Nurse Association of America; American Telemedicine Association; Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association; Care Transitions Program, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center; American Occupational Therapy Association; American Physical Therapy Association; American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; Gentiva Health Services; Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Center for Home Care Policy and Research, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and its contractors, the Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs); and The Remington Report.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Is a little healthcare coverage better than none?

The June 6, 2007 issue of USA TODAY has a cover story entitled, "Is a little medical coverage that much better than none?" It presents the case of several people who had health care insurance provided by their employers that had limited coverage and maximum amounts for various conditions . . . called "Limited Benefits Plans." These people were surprised when they had a medical condition and went for treatment. They then discovered the limits in their coverage.

This raises three big questions for home care leaders.

1) Is a little coverage better than none?

Many of the home health agencies and private duty companies we work with are struggling with this issue of how to provide healthcare coverage for their employees. Our research shows that this is one of the most sought-after benefits of healthcare workers.

Yet, when limited benefit plans are offered, or when plans are offered in which the employee must pay part of the premium, few employees take advantage of the benefit.

2) Whose responsiblity is it to understand the healthcare insurance plan.

The cases presented in the article described people who learned about the limits of their healthcare plans only after they sought treatment. It seems to me that employees have some responsiblity to learn about the benefits included in their health plan, and not to assume that everything will be covered.

Part of the problem with the cost of healthcare insurance in America today is that many workers believe that their healthcare costs should be covered in full by their employers, and that they should be entitled to the best care money can provide without having to pay for any of it. Consequently, healthcare is one of the few areas where we insure frequently recurring, relatively low cost services such as doctors visits, prescription drugs, and medical supplies.

Your home owners insurance doesn't cover your electric bill, plumbing repairs, and outside painting. Your car insurance doesn't cover oil changes, new tires, and a brake job.

3) How do we deal with patients who find out that their insurance doesn't provide the coverage they thought it did?

What do you do when you provide care for a patient and later find out that they have limited benefit coverage and your services are not covered? Do you bill the patient? How to you collect for your services?

As home health care in America continues as the fastest growing segment of healthcare, our need for employees will continue to grow, and our need for effective healthcare insurance programs will continue to grow.

As leaders, we need to be more aware of what's happening in the insurance industry.

What do you think? What's your experience? Give us your comments below.