Clarity, Partnership and Growth: Pulling the Lever in 2014

Three months have passed since we launched the VNAA Blueprint for Excellence, and the response has been stunning. I fully expect that during the next year it will become a widely used industry tool to advance understanding of what constitutes effective, high quality home health care services.

In 2014, we'll add heart failure and COPD to the Clinical Conditions module and launch a new module--Hospice. Developing best practices in this area will be especially important as CMS develops additional quality measures and payment models. We expect to complete discussion drafts on these two models by our April 2014 conference and finalize them next fall. We're also developing best practices for integration of health IT in home health and hospice.

This is just a beginning; I have a dozen or more areas I want us to explore. As we broaden and deepen the VNAA Blueprint, we will continue to elevate our individual nonprofit organizations by providing resources and education tools to improve quality and improve outcomes, and by using these tools and our collective expertise to transform health care delivery. We hold the lever. It's time to use it.

Advancing the profession, defining the standards

We will continue to make clear the value of what we do to stakeholders, including providers, policymakers and, especially, accrediting bodies. Our task is to develop a transparent framework for home health care and hospice services that eliminates confusion about the goals, value, integrity and quality of what we offer. We must continue to communicate and demonstrate that home health is the central linkage point between acute and primary care.

The VNAA Blueprint provides a fabulous platform to accomplish all this. Moreover, it offers guidance to evaluate and measure home care services--guidance that will be a tremendous asset to accrediting bodies.

VNAA leaders, because of the VNAA Blueprint, can inform the criteria accrediting organizations use to evaluate home health organizations.To that end, we will expand our outreach to, in particular, the Joint Commission, the Community Health Accreditation Program and the Accreditation Commission for Health Care--the standard-bearers for high-quality home health programs. We will offer insights and feedback as they update and refine current standards and develop new ones.

Eventually, I envision a learning collaborative, one that includes accrediting organizations, VNAA agencies, payers and provider organizations, to advance knowledge, using the framework and best practices outlined in many of the modules contained in the VNAA Blueprint. It's a lofty goal, and certainly a long-term one, but it will demonstrate the value of the VNAA and the VNAA Blueprint.

Accreditation organizations will not be our sole audience. The message we deliver to them is the same message we deliver to payers, physicians, allied providers, policymakers hospitals and others: We have evidence to demonstrate home health care's value--both in lowering the overall cost of care and in improving health outcomes.

This will prove challenging. I've spent the last several months talking to stakeholder groups, and the truth is few providers understand what home health actually is--much less how to identify a good home health care organization and measure its impact. As an industry, we must fill that knowledge gap. And we can. We have the tools, including the VNAA Blueprint. We have the expertise. We have the evidence. It's time to leverage our assets and transform health care delivery in our country.


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