The Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation’s Future Home Health Care Report Outlines a Strategy for Optimizing Value
Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Section: VNAA Updates

In October, the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation (AQHHI) released the final report in its Future of Home Health Project. Titled “The Future of Home Health Care: A Strategic Framework for Optimizing Value,” the report discusses the upcoming challenges the home health care community faces and lays out a framework for stakeholders to adapt to this changing environment.
The report draws on qualitative research, case studies, and academic literature to characterize the current industry landscape and pinpoint where home health is heading in the future. As the American population gets older, and people live longer with chronic conditions, home health care agencies will play three distinct, dynamic roles. These roles include partnering with: post-acute and acute care, primary care, and home-based long-term care.
The report identified four areas where future home health agencies can address these challenges.
  • Provide Person-Centered Care: The home health industry will need to develop new quality measurement indicators to ensure that person-centered, individualized care is accurately measured to ensure effectiveness.
  • Increase Care Coordination: The recent shift within the Medicare program to prioritize value and quality means that beneficiaries will interact with a wider range of health care providers. While this complicates matters, it also positions home health agencies to take a leading role in health care coordination.
  • Prioritize Quality: As Medicare starts to move towards value-based care, home health agencies will have to be more flexible in responding to patient needs. The report confirmed that the vast majority of Medicare patients want to stay in their own homes and that many who choose to do so will likely be older and have more chronic conditions. It is up to home health agencies to ensure that patients can get the care they need while remaining safely at home.
  • Implement New Technology: Home health agencies are at the forefront of the health care technology revolution and are uniquely positioned to implement these advances across the sector. Doing so poses additional challenges as agencies will have to grapple with implementing many technology systems that Medicare currently does not reimburse for. 
Policymakers will play a critical role in ensuring that these challenges are met. In addition to identifying the challenges and opportunities facing the home health care community, the report also included several policy recommendations to empower home health care agencies to recognize their full potential. The federal government, working through legislation and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should implement policies to:
  1. Reduce regulatory barriers to risk-sharing and incentivize care coordination among agencies.
  2. Allow more flexibility in delivering home health care through alternative payment models.
  3. Maintain program integrity and address fraud by identifying “hot spot” areas of aberrant claim patterns. This will increase confidence in the Medicare system and lead to more program cost savings.
The home health agency of the future has enormous potential to become to primary driver of quality, patient-centered care that goes far beyond managing post-acute episodes. With this framework, providers, policymakers, and stakeholders will be able to navigate upcoming challenges and unlock future opportunities to provide better care for everyone.
To read the full article, which was published in Home Health Care Management & Practice, click here.
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