Life Sciences

Home health segment focuses on QI teams

Medicare & Reimbursement Advisor Weekly, August 5, 2009

In a survey of 324 home health agencies, including the top organizational chains (see chart on p. 5), the following are some of the topline findings. There are opportunities for manufacturers interested in this segment to align with agency quality goals. Some pharmaceutical companies are looking at this segment as an emerging area for growth:

  • 90% of home health agencies/companies put quality improvement (QI) plans in place if desired clinical outcomes (benchmarks) are not met (10% don’t).
  • Of agencies/companies that put plans in place, 91% have a QI team overseeing the plans.
  • 79% of agencies collect outcomes data by diagnosis, 15% by acuity, and 6% use both methods: 67% track outcomes on a nurse-specific level.
  • 82% have a process to follow up with patients within one week after home health discharge. They track hospital admissions, unplanned physician visits, and falls.
  • 98% of home health agencies/companies have internal staff members performing audits on clinical documentation and the care that is provided, including medication management; while 2% use a third party.
  • 94% of home health agencies/companies collect data on the patient’s satisfaction with the care they received during follow-up (6% don’t).
  • 71% of home health agencies/companies have a formal strategic planning process. The formal strategic planning process occurs annually for 79% of this number; 92% of this number include QI as a strategic planning goal, and medication access/better medication management is part of the QI process. One of the major goals ahead for home health agencies is to enhance medication management and training.
  • 68% of home health agencies/companies are receptive to receiving educational support from pharmaceutical manufacturers, provided the education is not brand-specific and aligns with their quality initiatives; they say category-specific education is needed, particularly in the chronic disease areas such as depression.
  • 32 respondents whose agencies/companies use vendor software to ensure that patient assessments/files are compliant prior to billing use McKesson (this was the most common vendor listed). Most respondents are satisfied with McKesson.
  • 99% of companies provide staff member education to protect against adverse events. Only 24% of agencies use a proprietary system to protect against adverse events.
  • 80% do not currently work with any membership associations.

The survey was conducted electronically during the week of July 27 by HCPro, Inc.’s sister company, Beacon Health (, which provides training, news, resources, and consulting for home health nursing and administrative staff members.