Analysis by John Corrigan
Do Medicare Home Health Agency owners and administrators understand the synergies that could come from private duty partnerships? I have been asking myself this question ever since I bean to exhibit at home care conferences earlier this year.
Over and over again I speak with Directors and Administrators from Home Health companies and I ask them if they provide Private Duty services. When they say "no," as they usually do, I follow up with, "Out of the 200 or so patients you have, do none of them ever want or need non-medical services between your nursing and therapy visits?"
Even though I have been hearing that home health must migrate toward getting patients better with fewer and fewer visits, a great majority of these owners tell me that their patients do not need private services. I am too polite to press the question but I ask it here. "How is that possible?"
They are telling me that a patient who is receiving skilled nursing and therapy services at home, perhaps following a CVA, a recent heart attack, or a broken hip after a fall needs no assistance with bathing, toileting, and dressing, or shopping, cooking, and vacuuming? The answer is obvious, isn't it? Of course these people need assistance!
The question, then, is what could make skilled providers believe their patients do not need extra help? Are they scared of Private Duty providers? Are they lacking knowledge on how to offer such a service themselves? Are they unwilling to get into the business of hiring non-skilled workers? I do not know the answers. I am sincerely asking.
If you own a Home Health company and are not providing non-medical, patient-pay services to at least 30% of your Home Health patients, you are losing a revenue source! But it is not just a mercenary issue. I am pretty sure that most, if not all, of us got into this business in the first place because we care about frail elderly and sick children and new mothers. Why would we not give them all of the services they need?
I am not suggesting you should give referrals away or, even worse, ignore that the need exists. With never-ending Medicare reimbursement reductions, you are trying to serve your patients with fewer in-person visits. That is all well and good but many of these patients may want, need, and are able to afford Private Duty care as a supplement to your skilled services. In many cases, these extra services can be paid for with little to no out of pocket for the patient. There are financial sources including Long Term Care Insurance and VA programs such as "Fee for Service," "Aide and Attendant" and many others.
I carry with me a saying I learned from my folks, "What you focus on grows!" If it is not growing, you are not focusing on it. For example, Medicare agencies that do also provide Private Duty service, if they are not converting over 40 percent of their clients to the other side, they are not focusing on it.
Are you struggling to grow sales? Look within your own book of business! Look to see whether you are leaving revenue on the table and leaving patients in the lurch. Do your clients benefit from your company giving them all the care they need? Or are you focused on your own need to provide the kind of care you are comfortable with? You know how hard it is to get each referral in the first place. Now that you have it, don’t lose it to another company that does provide both levels of service.
This is a tough time in post-acute care, both for skilled and personal care providers. Regulations continue to tighten and, along with them, so are margins. We cannot afford to be reactive, we need to be proactive, which means fighting simultaneously for our patients and our businesses. Stop losing sales that are already in your house! Make every referral count!
John Corrigan is a former executive with a Florida home health agency and now the Chief Customer Officer at Paradigm Claim Services. He can be reached at John@Paradigm-Claims.com
©2018 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. firstname.lastname@example.org