Despite the difficulties of the past year, we look forward to a new year with the hopes of a restorative period for the hospice industry. We’ve taken some time to reflect on 2020, and we’ve also thought about what 2021 has in store for all of us. Here’s a sneak peek into what we could expect.
A need for telehealth
Hospices across the nation had to modify how they conducted business due to the pandemic. They complied with orders from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to transform their operations and facilities into safer environments for their staff and patients. As organizations adapted to new protocol, telehealth became a beneficial resource for clinicians to leverage as a safer way to check-in with patients. Regardless of how 2021 looks like, telehealth and its capabilities will continue to be used for the imminent future. This point is assisted by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and they’ve chosen to allow for temporary additions to expand telehealth in agencies. However, as hospices make the investment into virtual care, questions about payment are not entirely clear. Long-term payment requirements will need to be established if hospices continue to use telehealth beyond 2021.
Value-based insurance model
CMS may test coverage of hospice through Medicare Advantage via the value-based insurance model. The model is meant to reduce expenditures from the Medicare program, as well as improve coordination of health care service delivery. CMS hopes that this avenue will lower costs and improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.
More M&A activity
Mergers and acquisitions will continue to be a hot button issue in 2021. Even though transactions slowed down in early 2020, they gradually swelled back up as investors and hospices grew their investments. Private equity has evaluated the impact and agencies are ready to discuss opportunities again. We envision more acquisitions this year as hospices grow in size.
Expanding care beyond hospice
A number of hospices continue to mold their identities beyond traditional hospice care. Many hospices have chosen to extend their services well beyond the last weeks to months of a patient’s life. This is mainly due to financial needs and the prevalence of chronic illness among aging populations. Many hospices have redefined their roles as stewards of chronic care and hope to secure reimbursement for these services. Specifically, they hope to serve a seamless level of care from early diagnosis through end-of-life.
Our predictions for 2021 will likely evolve. Regardless of what happens in 2021, we hope that hospices around the nation will thrive amidst the continued struggles of the healthcare industry. Don’t go through it alone no matter what you experience this year. Maxwell Healthcare Associates is here to guide you as you make decisions that will impact the lifeblood of your organization. Read our other blogs or head over to our services pages to see how we can help your agency.