MA Home Health Agencies Excel in Medicare Demo Project

February 26, 2010

As a result of their efforts to achieve measurable improvement goals in patient health and quality of life, eighteen Massachusetts home health agencies received a share of a federal performance pool of $15.4 million, which is also the national Medicare savings attained through the project.

For more information, see the Alliance’s press release.

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Home Care, Palliative Care and Advanced Illness Management

February 25, 2010

The CHAMP program at the Center for Home Care Policy & Research of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York has developed a useful website that consolidates many evidence based tools and studies aimed at promoting high quality home based care.   In a new posting on their community blog, Dr Eric Widera of the Division of Geriatrics at UCSF discusses the power home care agencies have to provide innovative care that can integrate the palliation of symptoms, care coordination and advance care planning earlier in a patient’s disease trajectory. Included in his discussion of this timely issue – given the STAAR and End of Life Care Expert Panel projects in Massachusetts – is a link to CHAMP’s Evidence Brief on Advanced Illness Management.   Does this look like something your agency is already doing? Or could be? Comments welcome.

So You Want To Start A Home Care Agency?

February 19, 2010

So You Want To Start A Home Care Agency?Home care is one of the fastest-growing segments of the health & human services industries. Owning a home care agency can provide you with a meaningful and profitable career where you can be your own boss, make your own decisions, and decide your own future.

A successful homecare agency requires a careful business plan that considers start-up costs, local demand and  competition, workforce recruitment, and marketing. And like all new businesses, new home care agencies have a high attrition rate during their first few years.

So You Want To Start A Home Care Agency? will answer your basic questions, help you think through the necessary steps, and provide you with links and references to additional information sources.

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Care Transitions as a Reform Strategy

February 18, 2010

A key tenet of the Massachusetts Quality Improvement Initiative is an  efforts to improve the flow of patients – and information – from one health care setting to another.  The state’s broad plan is laid out in it’s recently released “Strategic Plan for Care Transitions.” Care transitions are an obvious choice as it is an area in which data indicate Massachusetts can do better.  The federal AHRQ 2008 state rankings place Massachusetts seventh overall for health system performance, but 33rd in avoidable hospital admissions and costs.    For your consideration:  How can home health care contribute to an improved care transitions infrastructure?  In terms of medication reconciliation?   Chronic care symptom management? Screening for readmission risk?    The state’s attention to this issue, can be home health’s opportunity to shine.  Your comments and ideas are welcome.

Free Emerg. Prep Guide w/order of Standards of Care Handbook

February 18, 2010

Through the end of March, Alliance members who order our Standards of Home Health Clinical Practice Manual will receive a free copy of Home Health Care Emergency Preparedness Handbook.

Standards of Home Health Clinical Practice The Standards of  Practice manual represents the professional consensus of experienced home health practitioners in the fields of nursing, physical therapy, hospice, and quality improvement.  Each standard was developed by a subcommittee and reviewed by the full workgroup and subject-matter experts.  Each order includes a printed copy of the manual, as well as a CD containing the complete text in an Adobe PDF format.  The table of contents is available for preview

The Standards of Practice Manual normally retails for $225, but is available to Alliance members for just $65.

The Alliance developed the Standards of Home Health Clinical Practice Home Health Care Emergency Preparedness Handbook jointly with the Department of Public Health.

This essential reference not only covers what home care agencies can do to protect and care for their own clients in an emergency, but also details how their unique skills and knowledge base can help their entire communities.

Like the Standards of Care Manual, the Emergency Preparedness Handbook is neatly bound in a sturdy ring folder. The table of contents is also available for preview.

To order a copy of both guides, sign into our website and order a copy of the Standards of Care Manual; we will include a copy of the Emergency Preparedness Handbook at no additional charge.  To order just a copy of the Emergency Preparedness Handbook, call HCA Membership coordinator Tom Meyer at (617) 482-8830.

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HCA Offers Comments on State HIT Plan

February 12, 2010

The Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) posted their draft of the state Health IT plan, a roadmap meant to guide Massachusetts towards establishing electronic health records (EHRs), and are accepting comments until February 16.

MeHI was recently designated by the Governor as the Regional Extension Center (REC) for the state. The REC, according to their website, “provides direct assistance and best practice tools to assist health care providers, especially primary care providers, in their meaningful adoption of EHRs.”

The Alliance suggests home care and home health agencies offer comments on the plan so that the industry can be more involved in the implementation process.

Here are the comments, by section, offered by HCA:

Section 1: Executive Summary
In improving “person focused” health care (Goal 1), improving the quality and safety of health care across all providers, and having that quality of care be consistent and predictable (Goal 2), home health should be looked upon to more effectively achieve that mission. The involvement of home health would further improve the efficiencies in HIT that will slow the growth of health care spending (Goal 3).

We agree and support that interoperable health records (strategy 3) should be in all clinical settings and while 40 percent of providers use EHR’s, the number goes above 75 to 80 percent when dealing with home health agencies in Massachusetts.

Home health would also serve as an asset in supporting care coordination, patient engagement and population health (strategy 4).

Section 2: Intro
Typo under future state regarding prescriptions and refills.

Section 3: Multi-Stakeholder Governance
Under the graphic of how Ad Hoc Workgroups participate in the decision making process (Figure 3.2), we hope that the workgroups will recognize home health as an “option for MeHI to pursue” and that we will be identified as a gap “in knowledge or representation.”

Section 4: Establish a Privacy Framework to Guide the Devlopment of a Secure HIT Environment
Meaningful use care goals are reflected in home health. For instance, clinical decision support, enhanced care coordination and exchanging meaningful information across the health care team are a few areas of expertise for home health.

Section 5. Implement Interoperable Electronic Health Records in all Clinical Settings and Assure They Are Used to Optimize Care
Since hospitals and doctors are priority providers, other providers could be a part of the loan program to jump-start their involvement.

Section 6. Develop and Implement a Statewide HIE to Support Care Coordination, Patient Engagement and Population Health
Home health may not be involved in an HIE, but the experience of home health agencies’ use of EHR’s could also be looked to for lessons and guidance.

Section 7. Create a Local Workforce to Support HIT Related Initiatives
No Comments

Section 8. Monitor Success
No Comments

Section 9. Path Forward
No Comments
Appendix A: Terms and Definitions
No Comments

Appendix B: Additional Services Considered for the Statewide HIE
No Comments

General Comments
Realizing that home health is not a “priority provider,” and knowing that all provider types will eventually be roped in, I tried not to belabor each individual section with ties to how home health should be included.

The state plan has to follow certain guidelines set by the ONC, but it is our hope that home health will be among the next round of providers that are implemented. With that said, we support the vision of implementing Health IT in all clinical settings (pg 32) for the purpose of better patient self-management.

Thank you for taking and considering our comments.

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Alliance Releases New Pediatric Guide

February 10, 2010

Though home care is often thought of as exclusively for elders, its services actually benefit a much wider demographic.

With this in mind, the Alliance is pleased to announce the publication of the inaugural edition of the Guide to Pediatric Home Care Services.  The Guide lists Alliance members who offer specialty programs in pediatric home care.   The agencies listed in this directory self-reported the services they provide.

The Guide is available for free download directly to your computer; hard copies are also available for order.

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