I recently attended Home Health Care News’ Summit in Chicago. The meeting, which took place September 20th, brought together industry executives who offered perspectives on labor challenges, regulatory mandates, new competition and more. I found the event educational and valuable.
During a half day of discussions, panelists covered top-of-mind industry themes including, home health policies and regulatory changes, staffing, M&A and views from the C-suite. Here are my takeaways:
Home health policies and regulatory changes: Unsurprisingly, PDGM was the headliner here. Many voiced concerns regarding what is considered an institutional vs. a community referral source. This differentiation could have significant impact on reimbursement. It’s estimated that 65 percent of referrals today would fall under a community referral source and thus, agencies will receive a lower reimbursement rate. The group consensus was that cost savings should be incentivized rather than disincentivized.
Staffing: One of the panelists, Right At Home’s director of employee experience, Stacey Buechler, had some great tips for hiring and retaining top caregivers such as creating good relationships with your caregivers at hire and creating employee recognition programs like team member spotlights and incentives for top caregivers of the month.
It was also importantly noted that immigration reform could potentially further impact our industry’s caregiver shortage.
M&A: If we’re in tune with our industry, we know mergers and acquisitions are ubiquitous. To date, there have been 84 transactions in 2018. Should this trajectory continue, we should expect more than 100 by year’s end. That’s a 250 percent increase from last year. Home health transactions continue to be the highest with hospice second. One panelist stated that a hospice agency sold at a 16x multiple! That’s impressive.
The question on everyone’s mind: Will this M&A trend continue? There are a few factors playing a part in evaluations. 1. reimbursement and 2. CMS. The final rule will definitely play a part in our industry’s ongoing buying and selling activity.
Views from the C-suite: This group of panelists represented some of the nation’s largest home health agencies. They shared interesting insights on the industry as well as highlights of their strategic plans for the future. The underlying focuses shared by all panelists included care quality, staffing and tools for their team to do amazing work.
Amedysis’s representative spoke about seeking government support of home health and home care. He also underscored the importance home health operators keeping an intelligent database with predictive functions to properly identify and understand patient risk.
Homewatch’s rep expressed her feeling that interoperability holds paramount importance in increasing compliance.
Humana discussed the importance of leveraging technology to facilitate integrated care.