PA Homecare Agency Uses Connected Care to Win Hospital Partners

Did you read the latest article from the Home Care Technology Report by Tim Rowan? Read how Health Calls Home Health used the Connected Care Technology by NDoc Software to grow their referrals to be the provider of choice in their community.

Faced with capped reimbursements and rising operational costs, Mike Little and Maria Radwanski, RN MSN, CRRN, respectively CEO and President of Health Calls Home Health in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, have found success by staying ahead of the technology wave. At the top of their priority list was making their agency attractive to hospitals and for that they needed to first produce quality outcomes and, second, communicate those outcomes to area referral sources.

They turned to their EHR software vendor, Thornberry, Ltd., for both.

When a business is squeezed between revenue and costs, the only way out is expansion. In home health care, the road to expansion is built with referrals. In order to increase their referral sources and become the post-acute care provider of choice in the Berks County area, Mike and Maria knew they had to promote and communicate their quality outcomes to referral sources. 

To improve their hospital readmission rate, they combined OASIS and patient visit information from Thornberry’s NDoc® application and used it to monitor and make treatment corrections while an episode of care was in progress. Clinicians began to apply timely preventive measures that improved patient care which, in turn, prevented many readmissions. 

Mike and Maria also integrated in-home monitoring devices coupled with clinical analytics, which made the management of patient care more efficient. Such technology-enabled preventive and proactive measures made it possible to addressing potentially negative trends early, which resulted in improved care, better patient outcomes, and fewer hospitalizations. 

Blowing one’s own horn
Now all they had to do was make sure hospitals and physician groups knew what they had accomplished. The next step was for Health Calls’ marketing staff to create colorful, graphical representations of the agency’s outstanding readmission reductions in order to communicate to referral sources and payers the significant financial and clinical advantages of working with them instead of another agency.

Health Calls Home Health can boast today a less than 6 percent hospital readmission rate over 30 days, the time frame with which all hospitals are concerned today. Marketers also make sure payers know that their cost of care is less than $95 per day per patient; and they point out that this compares to $1,200 per day per patient for area rehabilitation hospitals. 

Cost savings are impressive but are elevated to astounding when marketers compare outcomes and give examples. Patients discharged from Health Calls Home Care, they report, are walking with the assistance of a cane, in contrast to the walker that is typical for patients who spend their recovery in a rehab hospital. 

Controlling the costs of coordinating and providing quality care that prevents readmission to the hospital is the key role Health Calls Home Health plays in their community…and both hospital administrators and physicians are taking note. “At Health Calls Home Health, we’re spending more time on readmission prevention than ever before,” explains CEO Little. “It’s our ‘cane vs. walker’ story, along with our readmission scores, that hospital executives and physicians want to hear.” He further adds, “Telehealth technology and insightful clinical analytics help us identify trends early to prevent adverse effects and readmission.”

Tom Peth, CEO of Thornberry Ltd. described Health Calls’ experience this way, “Connected Care technology is the combination of infrastructure technology and the ability to access critically important clinical data to provide a comprehensive solution for homecare providers. This enables care that is both connected and coordinated.”

From a clinical standpoint, Health Calls President Radwanski states, “If technology is the foundation of our care transition, then communication is the catalyst to have our caregivers and clinicians to engage and connect with patients directly one-on-one. Our clinical and caregiver staff can reinforce what was instructed while the patient was in the hospital, and can educate patients’ family members with clear instructions about taking medications and following care protocols properly.”

As hospitals now have a vested interest in reducing avoidable, 30-day readmissions, thanks to the new penalties from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that began October 1, home care businesses have been given a tremendous opportunity. To answer the knock, they must not only improve patient outcomes outside hospital walls, not only control readmission rates, not only improve quality outcomes and keep costs on track but also take proactive steps to make sure local referral sources know they have done these things. This is how Health Calls Home Health achieved improved patient health at the lowest possible cost in the community.

Mike Little will be presenting his home care success story in greater detail at the upcoming National Association of Home Care (NAHC) Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Orlando, October 21-25. Little will discuss the results of his successful business model with the use of Connected Care technology that includes the integration of in-home diagnostics and monitoring devices. He will also explore how he increased his referral sources by partnering with his software vendor to leverage care quality results and grow his home care business using clinical analytics, collaborative workflow design, and incentive management.