What will your home health agency look like in the
What are the factors that will affect that future?
How can you as a leader get ready for the future?
The two most important roles of a leader in any
organization is to grow the business and to get ready for the
future. What are you doing now to get ready for the future?
One of the ways you can help your leadership team is to
monitor the forces and trends that are shaping the future of home
health care in America. Forces are those pressures causing change,
and trends are the patterns of change being created by the
At Leading Home Care, one of the things we do is help you
monitor those forces and trends. Let’s take a look.
Five Forces Causing Change:
1. Economic Pressure the overall
economy and the economics of home health care affect your ability to
operate a financially viable home care business.
2. Consumer Choice the way that
consumers make decisions about their health care has an impact on how
health care providers operate their businesses.
3. Demographic Change the patterns
of change caused by shifting demographics will have an affect on how we
operate our businesses.
4. Technological Change the increased
use of technology in home care is shaping the way we do things, and the
way our customers interact with us.
5. Political Change the swinging
pendulum of political momentum increases the level of uncertainty, and
causes us to spend time and energy being away from political decisions
and working in collaboration with our state and national associations
to influence those decisions.
Ten trends that are leading the way:
When you pay attention to the forces causing change, then
you can grow your ability to anticipate the changes being driven by
these forces. Here are some trends we are monitoring:
1. Cuts to Medicare Reimbursement. No big
surprise here. The Medicare program has announced significant cuts
in reimbursement for home health care, and has just released new shared
savings plans for ACOs to help slow the growth in the cost
2. Medicaid Cuts Nearly every
state in the union is facing significant budget deficits, and much of
this deficit spending is due to Medicaid, the health insurance program
for low income Americans. The cuts in Medicare will mean lower
reimbursement for providers, and reduced numbers of residents who are
eligible for care.
3. Cost Increases The cost of
operating your agency will go up based on several factors; the
cost of insuring your employees, the cost of
gasoline, medical supplies and medical equipment, and the cost of
sales and marketing.
4. Increasing Consumer Awareness Elderly
Americans and their children are much more aware of the availability of
home health services than ever before. Surveys show clearly, that
seniors would much rather receive care at home than in a facility.
5. Increasing Competition The number of
home health agencies has gone up dramatically since the low point 1997
2000 decline. There were 6,861 Medicare Certified Home Health
Agencies at the end of Fiscal year 2001, and 10,581 agencies at the end
of Fiscal year 2009. Thats an increase of 54% in just 8 years.
6. Growth of Private Pay, Non-Medical Home Care The fastest
growing segment of health care in America is private pay, non-medical
home care, or private duty home care. Research conducted by
Leading Home Care shows an estimated 15,000 companies providing this
care. While the rate of growth has slowed during the past two
years due to the overall economy, this sector still shows double digit
growth numbers in many markets. More and more home health agencies
are exploring the role of private pay in the future of their agencies.
7. Growth of Patient Monitoring One of the
fastest growing sectors of technology in home health care is for
patient monitoring. The use of Telehealth is increasing. There are
more personal emergency response system options, along with medication
dispensers, home monitors, and web based interactive patient/ family
8. Wireless Technology More and more
technology applications use wireless internet connections. The
growth in the use of iPhone, iPods, and iPads has created new awareness
of the capabilities of wireless technology. As other vendors add
new products, well see a proliferation of new ways to use wireless
technology for practical applications in home health care.
9. Health Care Reform As the Patient
Protection and Affordable Care Act makes its way into being, we will
see more and more legislative, regulatory, and judicial changes that
will have a major impact on home health care. There are provisions
of the law that create tremendous opportunities for home health, and
provisions that will increase our costs and reduce our
productivity. Navigating the fog of health care reform will be a
critical role for home health leaders.
10. State Budget Cuts While health
care reform is making its way through Washington, the states are
struggling to keep their financial heads above water. This is
leading to significant political turmoil as shown by protests in
Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and California. Expect these political
challenges to continue as state leaders try to get their financial
house in order and as voters try to figure out which side of the
balance sheet they are on.
What are you doing in your agency to monitor these and
other trends and to take them into account as you update your strategic
One of the things we continue to do for home health
agencies is to lead
Executive Strategic Retreats, Board of Directors Retreats, and
Strategic Visioning sessions to help you create and implement clear
strategies to grow your business and get ready for the future.