Study: Workload, Telemedicine Focus Drives Quality for Home Health Agencies

With over 400,000 data points, a new LeadingAge study could provide home care providers with a new roadmap on how to optimize performance.

The one-year study that gathered information from over 1,000 agency sites found that home health agencies with registered nurse case manager cases under 25 have the highest star ratings for quality of care and patient satisfaction. .

The study also found that 92% of the agency’s respondents use telemedicine, with 44% of those continuing to use telemedicine after patient discharge for population health initiatives.

The nonprofit LeadingAge this week released the National Healthcare at Home Best Practices and the Future Insights study in collaboration with the consulting and accounting firm BerryDunn.

The study looked at which agencies were performing the best clinically, operationally and financially. He also focused on technology, palliative care, personnel and future models of care delivery.

“The data in this survey is truly groundbreaking, both in its depth and its reach, as it provides insights into the growing and diverse sectors of home health, homecare and hospice,” Robyn Stone, senior vice president of research at LeadingAge, he said in a press release. “The result is a complete and operational view of an evolving field, which comes at a critical time as assistance and services are in high demand.”

Of the home health centers involved in the study, 64% had case manager cases of 20 to 25 patients. The rest of the rest had a workload of 19 or less.

On the flip side, according to the study, a case load greater than 25 “directly correlates with reduced quality and patient satisfaction.”

The study also found that agencies with workloads below 25 were more likely to document at home. As a result of the timely documentation, those agencies had the lowest number of

days from the start of the RAP service (0-1 days) and had the highest profit margins.

In 2020, the home health industry had to contend with both COVID-19 and the Patient-Driven Groupings Model (PDGM). For this reason, a new technology has been introduced, none more widespread than telemedicine.

Of the 92% of respondents who said they used some sort of telemedicine, one-third of those agencies said they had implemented it in the past 18 months.

Meanwhile, 44% of respondents continue to use telemedicine after patient discharge as part of their population health initiatives. LeadingAge also found that there is a correlation between an increase in the use of telemedicine and an increase in quality-of-care ratings.

Drive home health referrals

In home health, how an agency defines a referral helps identify which referral leads are tracked and logged to measure an agency’s conversion rate. In the LeadingAge study, 93% of agencies said they measure the success of their sales team by the number of admissions.

Most of the home health agencies surveyed had a conversion rate of between 80 and 89 percent. However, agencies that didn’t have the qualifications for what a referral needed, like a name or contact information, had an even higher average conversion rate of between 90 and 100%.

Source: Leading Age

Scheduling such referral appointments is also a key aspect of good conversion rates.

Nearly two-thirds of the home health agencies surveyed use a dedicated scheduler to schedule the start of care visits, while the other third used the hiring department for scheduling. No home health agency responded and said they use the clinical team to schedule these visits.

Source: Leading Age

“As we address a severe nursing shortage, the study data shows us that agencies using non-clinical for roles that are not clinical in nature are doing so successfully, without compromising on quality,” the study reads.

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