Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shortage of Home Care Workers threatens our elderly population - "No Kidding!"

For years we've been talking about the critical shortage of home health care workers and the impact it will have on the future of your agency. Now, the crisis is official. The Institute of Medicine, the same folks who told us about how many people die in hospitals every year as a result of medication errors, has now issued a study of the worker shortage.

April 14, 2008 -- Experts warned Monday that the United States faces a massive health care shortage that threatens to leave millions of seniors without proper health care within the next three decades.

A report issued by the Institute of Medicine says that medical and nursing schools are training far too few doctors and nurses on how to care for the elderly. At the same time, other workers, such as nurses' aides and home health workers, remain undertrained and underpaid, the experts say.

"We really feel that this is a crisis," said John W. Rowe, MD, who chaired the panel issuing the report.

-------------------

So it's now officially a crisis. What are we going to do about it? What is your agency doing to become an "employer of choice," so that the home care workers who are available will choose to work for you instead of your competitors?

For information on how Leading Home Care can help you with our Strategic Staffing process, visit our web site.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Telehealth as a Sales and Marketing Tool in Home Health Care

Are you looking for a new source of competitive advantage to grow your home health agency? Are you offering telehealth as part of your program of services?

A new study released by Philips Electronics and Fazzi Associates shows that 45.2% of home health agencies experienced an increase of referrals as a result of their telehealth program. My guess is that the other 55% of the agencies using telehealth have not done a good job of using telehealth as a source of competitive advantage.

In our Certified Home Care Sales Professional workshop, we have taught home health care sales professionals how to use facts and data to create competitive advantage. Here are some facts and data from the Philips / Fazzi study that will be valuable to all telehealth users:

* 17.1 percent of agencies use some type of telehealth system. A much higher percentage of large agencies (32.0%) report that they provide telehealth services.
* 88.6 percent report that telehealth led to an increase in quality outcomes:
* 76.6 percent report a reduction in unplanned hospitalizations
* 77.2 percent report a reduction in emergency room visits
* 71.3 percent report that telehealth services improved patient satisfaction. No agency reported that it reduced patient satisfaction.
* 83.9 percent state that less than one in ten patients refused a home telehealth system.
* 79.2 percent of patients or family members were reluctant to have the telemonitoring system removed.
* 42.8 percent report that telehealth led to a reduction in cost. A similar number reported it as cost-neutral.
* 63.5 percent report that telehealth had no impact on clinical caseloads. As more agencies use telehealth and move up the learning curve, clinical productivity measures may increase
* 49.7 percent report telehealth decreased on-site visits
* 45.2 percent report telehealth increased the number of referrals
* 56.9 percent report that their nurses were very receptive to having a telehealth service after one year as compared to 36.3 percent at the beginning of the program.
* 89.1 percent stated that given everything they know today, they would still have started their telehealth program.

For more information on the study, visit the Philips Electronics web site.

Home Health Care and Nursing Homes duke it our over Medicaid Dollars

It was bound to happen. As more and more consumers and government leaders learn about the value of home care, and more state money is made available to home health services, the long term care industry is becoming frustrated. They are seeing dollars they think should be spent on nursing home care going to home care.

Here's an example:

HARRISBURG, Pa., April 9, 2008 --
The Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) said today that a claim by nursing home interests that home health care is draining resources from nursing homes is "factually false and destructive to broad-based efforts to make limited public dollars go further in providing medical and health services for all Pennsylvanians."

Vicki Hoak, the PHA director, said, "The nursing home industry has seen its reimbursement rates climb 22 percent in just the past five years. By contrast, home health care providers have not seen an increase in reimbursement rates for four years. Before that increase, the reimbursement rate had been stagnant for thirteen years."

What's happening in your state regarding Medicaid expenditure for home health care? Are you seeing more awareness of the benefits of home care? What are you doing to help communicate the message of home care to legislators and regulators?

Give us your comments below.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Technology Trends in Home Health - Wireless Telehealth in Spain

One of the Pillars of the Home Health Agency of the Future is technology. I'm always monitoring trends in each of these six pillars. Here's an interesting article on wireless telehealth in Spain. Not all of the technology developments are in the U.S.

Bilbao, Spain & Holon, Israel (PRWEB) April 3, 2008 -- Aerotel Medical Systems, one of the world's leading manufacturers of advanced telemedicine and remote monitoring solutions, announced today that Vodafone Spain in conjunction with Medicronic Salud have used Aerotel's e-CliniQ™ Wireless Home Monitoring System with successful results.

The e-CliniQ™ Wireless Home Monitoring System enables patients to keep track of their health, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Using Bluetooth technology, Aerotel's Tele-Modem™ Homecare Hub remotely monitors the patient's vital signs from various homecare sensors, transmitting the data to Medicronic's central receiving station via the Vodafone cellular network, where it is stored and analyzed by Aerotel's Medical Parameters Monitoring (MPM™) software.

The seamless technology is being used successfully by MEDICRONIC-VODAFONE SPAIN, a joint venture between Medicronic Salud and Vodaphone, to monitor, for example, patients' blood pressure and other vital signs. Easy to use, the e-CliniQ™ system is activated at the touch of a button. Blood pressure readings are encrypted and sent via a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone to the receiving center where the patient or doctor can directly access the information via the internet, using Aerotel's MPM-Net™ technology. The system allows doctors to check that patients are adhering to their pharmaceutical treatments.