Hospitals have long relied on home health agencies to get recently discharged patients back on their feet. But as new healthcare legislation puts pressure on hospitals to improve the patient experience and decrease readmission rates, care providers are increasingly tapping home health agencies to provide the post-acute care and disease management education that patients need to stay healthy at home.
Spending for home health agencies increased 6.3 percent to $88.8 billion in 2015, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and home health now accounts for roughly 3 percent of all healthcare spending.
This is good news for agencies like Ascension at Home Wisconsin. But meeting this growing demand also means seeing more patients despite an industry-wide talent shortage, beefing up educational resources and proactively intervening before patients end up back in the hospital. That’s a tall order, considering Ascension at Home serves patients suffering from congestive heart failure, COPD, cancer, pneumonia and other serious health conditions that can degenerate quickly.
Such sick patients, especially those with new diagnoses, have copious questions and complex needs. In the past, many patients overwhelmed Ascension at Home staff with questions, concerns and requests for unscheduled visits. Meanwhile, other patients didn’t communicate enough, and if their conditions deteriorated between weekly visits, home health workers might not catch the problem before patients ended up in the emergency room.
Ascension at Home had used another remote monitoring solution for high-risk patients, but the previous vendor didn’t offer the advanced functionality needed to optimize communications or integrate telehealth data into clinician workflows. “It was like telemonitoring and home health were two separate programs,” says Nathan Agen, Ascension at Home’s director of clinical services.
Agen knew that to improve patient care, boost clinician productivity and grow the business, Ascension at Home would need a more robust telemedicine solution, such as Vivify Health.