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Oh, the Times They Are a-Changin’

Healthcare nurse and senior patient

By Jay Tolman, Thornberry Ltd.

I used to wonder why hospitals were not more proactive in partnering with home health agencies. For years, hospitals have discharged patients with instructions and paperwork, and then sent them on their way with no follow-up in the post-acute world. Readmission to the hospital was not an issue, since the hospitals benefited financially when a patient returned.

Oh, the times they have changed.

Medicare reported last year that a record number of hospitals – 2,610 – faced fines for patients who were readmitted within 30 days for additional treatments. Nearly 18 percent of Medicare patients who had been hospitalized were readmitted within a month. Roughly 2 million patients return a year, costing Medicare $26 billion. More than half of that, an estimated $17 billion, comes from potentially avoidable readmissions.

As hospitals begin to feel the impact from readmission penalties, partnerships with home health agencies are being embraced with unprecedented enthusiasm, according to a leading home health, hospice and comprehensive post-acute health care services provider, LHC Group, Inc., as reported recently in Home Health Care News.

With the need for hospitals to partner with post-acute organizations, home care agencies need to consider strategies to stand out from the crowd and to get an audience with these hospitals and health systems.

Two key components to success in this area and environment are interoperability and meaningful real-time outcome data:

  • Outcome data: Home care agencies that are providing the services and programs to help prevent 30-day readmissions need to be able to track and report detailed outcome data. This is essential to market their success.
  • Interoperability: Interoperability across disparate systems will be key to engaging with referral sources and better handling of patient transitions from one level of care to another, and from one provider to another. Doing that rapidly and seamlessly within your EMR is critical.

Home health agencies need to consider their approach to tackling these two issues, to stay relevant to their all-important referral sources.


Jay Tolman

Jay Tolman, regional sales manager for Thornberry Ltd.

Jay Tolman is regional sales manager for Thornberry Ltd. Based in Lancaster, PA, Thornberry provides essential technology solutions for patient care at home or hospice to guide improvement in healthcare quality while improving business performance.




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