White Coat Notes: MA doctors value home health services, note barriers

White Coat Notes is a blog on Boston.com that touts news from the Boston area medical community, covering a range of health-related topics.  In a July 6 entry, White Coat Notes covered the recently released survey conducted by the Massachusetts Medical Society in collaboration with the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts physicians’ attitudes and utilization of home health services.

Click here to see the blog/article on the survey results.

Within the survey, there were multiple advantages in terms of improving care and reducing costs without compromising outcomes, but many barriers to accessing home health services were identified. Some of the more noteworthy results of the survey are below:

Positives:
•    97% say the services help them better manage their patients’ care at home
•    89% believe they reduce inpatient hospital admissions without compromising quality of care or health care outcomes
•    78% reported better patient compliance with care plans
•    78% believe telemonitoring services and remote monitoring of vital signs can improve quality of care; 67% believe these services can reduce patient cost
•    78% reported that past experience with a home care agency increased their confidence in referring patients
•    73% say services can reduce caregiver stress
•    65% reported better coordination of care plans
•    63% say they can lead to reductions in emergency department visits
•    50% reported faster recovery in post-acute care
•    41% believe they can provide cost savings

Negatives:
•    54% believed administrative burdens in the form of paperwork are the main barrier their use of home care services
•    53% reported they had to prolong a patient’s stay due to lack of access to services
•    40% noted that reimbursement issues were a barrier to using the services, yet 71% say they do not apply for reimbursement and 64% say they are unaware reimbursement is available.

Check out the full results of the physician survey here.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Boston Globe: Caring is Her Calling

Tama Lewis, a home health aide for Visiting Angels of Newton, was featured in a Boston Globe Health Section interview, which ran July 6. Tama won the Alliance’s “Home Health Aide of the Year” Award for her outstanding work and tells some of her story in the article.

Click here to see the Globe’s interview with Tama Lewis. See a clip from the story below:

The pay is low, and the clients can sometimes be grouchy. Still, Tama Lewis says she’s found her calling. Out of thousands of candidates, the 64-year-old Randolph woman recently was chosen Aide of the Year by the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts for her unflappable personality, insightful nature, warmth, and tact in caring for home-bound patients.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Providence (RI) Business News: Advantages, Barriers to Physician Use of Home Health Services

The recently released survey conducted by the Massachusetts Medical Society, in collaboration with the Home Care Alliance, was covered in a July 6 story by the Providence Business News.

Click here to see the story and check out the Alliance News Feed to see the results of the MMS survey.

Some of the higlights include:

Advantages: The main advantages to home services cited by physicians were better compliance with the patient’s care plan (78% of respondents), reduced stress on caregivers (73%), improved coordination of care (65%), and fewer visits to emergency departments (63%). An overwhelming number of physicians – 97% – say the services help them better manage their patients’ care at home.

Barriers: The main barriers to using these services cited by physicians were administrative burdens (paperwork, 54%), reimbursement issues (40%), and availability of workers (33%). The barrier of reimbursements, however, appears to be one that can be readily fixed by education and information: of the 71% of physicians who reported that they did not submit charges to Medicare for the services, 64% of those said they were unaware of the reimbursement.

Reduced Stress on Caregivers: The benefit of reducing caregiver stress by using these services was cited by 73% of physicians – an important consideration as more and more family members are pressed into caring for their elders for longer periods of time. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, an estimated 44 million Americans age 18 and older – about 21% of the population – provide unpaid care to another family member. And recent surveys and published reports have indicated the economic recession has put further strain on caregivers: as services are cut, caregivers are carrying much more of the financial load for care and in many cases are dividing time between working and caregiving.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Brockton Enterprise, Patriot Ledger: Home Care Champion

The Brockton Enterprise and Patriot Ledger of Quincy recognized Robert Dwyer who is the board treasurer for Norwell VNA and Hospice in their “mover & shakers” section.

Dwyer was given the “Home Care Champion” Award at the Alliance’s 2009 Spring Conference.

To see the announcement, click here.

Now in his 15th year on the board of the Norwell VNA, Mr. Dwyer had previously worked as a corporate counsel in the banking industry. When Medicare payment system changes were implemented, Mr. Dwyer personally advocated on the state and federal levels in opposition to inefficient business practices. Mr. Dwyer has also helped to guide Norwell VNA and Hospice through a merger and an expansion from a two-town agency to one that serves more than 20 communities on the South Shore.

Norwell VNA and Hospice Executive Director Meg Doherty added, “Through all of our changes, Bob has been a constant for NVNA and Hospice; ever present with his strong and supportive counsel, wise leadership and strong business ethics. He is a gentleman in every sense of the word and the epitome of a non-profit board member.”

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Tim Burgers of the Alliance Receives Achievement Award from ASAE

The below press announcement regarding the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) “Association Professional Achievement Award,” given to the Alliance’s Associate Director Timothy Burgers, was published in the Winthrop Transcript on June 18.

Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts Associate Director and Winthrop resident Timothy Burgers has received the Association Professional Achievement Award by the American Society of Association Executives for his 20 years of service for the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, a trade association that represents home health and home care agencies in the state.

“Tim has been an invaluable member of a team that may have changed during his 20 years, but the constant has been his leadership of and commitment to the organization and its goals,” said Home Care Alliance Executive Director Patricia Kelleher. “Tim has been an integral piece of maturing the Alliance from a small volunteer-driven organization to the fiscally sound and growing entity that exists today.”

The ASAE’s award is given to an association or nonprofit professional for exemplary service and outstanding accomplishments in management. Since the Alliance has been in existence for 40 years, Mr. Burgers’ tenure has spanned half of the organization’s time thus far. Mr. Burgers is responsible for all internal operations, financial management, human resources, technology development, member services, and general office management. His steady hand and management skills have guided the Home Care Alliance through three name changes, four office moves, the creation of a subsidiary non-profit Foundation and multiple by-law overhauls and revisions.

Under Mr. Burgers and Patricia Kelleher, the Alliance has reached 150 member agencies that employ more than 19,000 workers providing over 5 million home care visits each year to approximately 175,000 elderly, mentally ill and otherwise infirm Massachusetts residents.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Boston Globe, South Edition: Randolph Caregiver Honored

The Boston Globe, South edition ran a story on Tama Lewis, a home health aide from Visiting Angels of Newton, who was given the “Aide of the Year” Award from the Home Care Alliance at their 2009 Spring Conference.

Click here to see the article on Tama and her great work for Visiting Angels.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Enterprise/Patriot Ledger: Aide of the Year

The Brockton Enterprise and Patriot Ledger (Quincy) recognized a home health aide from Visiting Angels in their “Movers and Shakers” section.

Tama Lewis of Randolph was named “Home Health Aide of the Year” by the Alliance at their 2009 Spring Conference.

Click here to read the announcement.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Legislators Announce Release of Private Home Care Services Directory

The Malden Observer published an announcement from State Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei and Representatives Christopher Fallon, Paul Donato and Stephen “Stat” Smith regarding the publication of the Home Care Alliance’s 2009 Guide to Private Home Care Services.

The directory provides a listing of reputatble, professional home care providers in Massachusetts by town and county as well as valuable information on how to choose and pay for home care.

Click here to see the announcement and visit the publications page on our website to learn more about the Private Home Care Guide and the Alliance’s other helpful and informative publications.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

Letter to the Editor: Two distinct Categories of Workers

Alliance Executive Director Pat Kelleher submitted a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe regarding a March 28 article that “blurred the line” between home health aides and personal care attendants. See an excerpt as well as a link to the entire letter below.

I AM concerned that your March 28 front-page story, “Costs, concerns rise on home healthcare,” blurred the line for some readers between two categories of workers: home health aides and personal care attendants. This confusion would do a disservice to the home health industry and the many clients – mostly frail and homebound elders – who depend on these essential services.

Click here to see the letter on Boston.com.

Return to www.thinkhomecare.org.

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