A friend on Facebook sent me a link to an article saying that medical errors may be the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. According to the post on CNN’s web site, there may be as many as 250,000 deaths caused by medical errors. Different studies place the number of error-related deaths in a range of 48,000 to 250,000. The reason there is such a wide range is the lack of data about deaths caused by error. Whichever study you use you recognize that the hospital is a dangerous place to be.
This article is particularly relevant to leaders in home care because of the current emphasis on reducing hospital readmissions. A great way to grow your business is to work closely with hospitals that are working hard to reduce the number of patients who are readmitted within 30 days.
The challenge is getting a seat at the table. In spite of the huge economic opportunity for hospitals, their leaders tend to focus on in-hospital treatment and physician care. A few hospitals have recognized the role that home health care can play in reducing readmissions, and are partnering with home health. For the most part, hospital systems have not yet recognized the value that personal in-home care companies, or private duty, can play in reducing readmissions.
Compliance is the Key
Our research at Leading Home Care suggests that the two biggest factors in reducing hospital readmissions are:
- Medication Compliance – getting patient to take their medicine as prescribed
- Physician Follow Up – getting patients to keep their doctor’s appointments following discharge from the hospital
Who better to make sure patients take their meds and get to their doctor than a home health nurse, or a home care aide? The front line caregivers who are with those patients every day are in the right place at the right time to increase compliance with medications and doctor visits.
Using the Head and the Heart to Tell Your Story
To gain the opportunity to work with your local hospital, you need to earn a seat at the table. To sit at the table, you need to get the attention of the key decision makers. And to get their attention you need to use both the head and the heart. You need to have data and information to prove that you can reduce hospital admissions for your home care clients and home health patients. And you need to use the heart to tell the story of specific clients or patients and how you have kept them out of the hospital. You need to become a master at telling YOUR story, and using your story to make the point about how home care reduces readmissions.
At a recent meeting of one of our Home Care Mastermind Groups, one of the members was telling the rest of the group about their success in getting referrals from a number of hospitals in their community. They have been very successful in building those relationships because of the success they are having in reducing readmissions. They are a unique company that provides personal care services, but uses a nursing model to assess clients, develop care plans, and supervise care. They are also extremely good at capturing data about their clients so they can prove the outcomes of their care.
Another home care company we are working with is a private pay company affiliated with a home health agency that is part of a large urban hospital system. The nurses in the home health agency have developed training programs for the private pay caregivers to help them monitor patient conditions. When the caregiver notices a significant change in condition, she calls the home health nurse instead of 911. The nurse makes a visit instead of sending the patient to the emergency room. The result has been a significant number of prevented readmissions. Obviously, the caregivers are also trained to recognize a true emergency when they need to call 911 and get the patient to the ER.
Develop a Strategy to Collaborate with Hospitals
Collaboration between hospitals, home health, and in-home personal care companies will be a trend in the future. Will you be at the table to get a piece of that pie? Now’s the time to get ready. As hospitals and home health agencies move to value based purchasing, they will be looking for new and better ways to improve patient outcomes and reduce poor outcomes. You can play a part of that by developing a clear strategy to collaborate with hospitals. It’s all about creating Strategic Focus.
Remember what we say about Strategic Focus. It’s about “having a clear vision for the future, a strategy to get there, and the talent to execute with excellence.”
To discuss our process for creating Strategic Focus in your agency, call us today at 502-339-0653.