Bergy Bits and Growlers Dot the Healthcare at Home Landscape

Adventure awaits home health in the future
Exploring the unknown is akin to the home health landscape for 2016

At this exact time of the year 4 years ago in 2012, I was sailing to Antarctica on a National Geographic Expedition with some folks from NOAA who were tagging killer whales. One of the many joys of that once-in-a-lifetime trip was getting to stand watch on the bridge while the ship churned and rocked to look out for bergy bits and growlers. These small icebergs can be very dangerous to ships, because, as we all know, the tip of the iceberg is what one sees, and the mass is below water. Not a recipe for a good meeting between ship and berg.

Yesterday ended the Northeast Home Health Leadership Summit in Boston, and I could not get bergy bits and growlers off my mind as the realities about industry changes set in. At present, there are nine states that have been chosen to participate in the Value Based Purchasing trial. The baseline year for measurement for improvement in the chosen outcomes was 2015. That means that, for those nine states, their payment (reimbursement) for services in 2016 will be tied to their performance improvement in the chosen outcomes. So, the image of bergy bits and growlers in my mind is because this really is the tip of the iceberg for many home health companies. If a company does not know how they measure up against these 24 selected measures in both process and outcomes, then they have no clue as to what their reimbursement will be. Can you imagine running a business without knowing what you are getting paid for the service you are providing? That is exactly what is happening to these nine states. And, I truly believe that this pay for performance model will be extended to all healthcare in all states in the future.

So, think about being on the bridge and scanning for bergy bits and growlers as you plan for the future for your home health agency. Seems the government is serious about providing quality care at lower costs and making our population healthier as we continue down this path towards an aging society.

My latest presentation which will premiere at the MN Home Care Association’s Future of Home Care conference in Minneapolis next week is “Healthcare2030: Are You Prepared?” This interactive workshop takes the participant well into the future to envision life 15 years from now, and then backtracks to what we can do today to be prepared to meet the future. VBP is just one item that healthcare at home has to think about. Demographics, transportation, workforce, housing and technology are all pieces of the equation for the future.