It may be the dog days of summer, but there's quite a bit of activity happening in the home health and hospice world.

3 home health and hospice developments you need to know about this summer

It may be the dog days of summer, but there's quite a bit of activity happening in the home health and hospice world.

It may be the dog days of summer, but there’s quite a bit of activity happening in the home health and hospice world.

It may be the dog days of summer, but there’s quite a bit of activity happening in the home health and hospice world. While you were tanning at the beach or relaxing on vacation, mergers and acquisitions reached a new high, patients became a little more electronic-friendly and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services held an forum for home health and hospice issues.

Here’s your helpful summer news roundup (so you can get back to fun and sun faster):

Home health and hospice deals double
Summer days can seem slow and listless, but there sure was a lot of hand-shaking and deal-making being done the last few months. For the second quarter of 2016, home health and hospice care deals came in at double what they were this time last year, Home Health Care News reported. All in all, deals jumped up 15 percent over the year for home health and hospice to reach 396 transactions.

beach It may be the dog days of summer, but there has been quite a bit of activity happening in the M&A world.

The one not-so-bright spot in the report was that M&A activity is down 33 percent from the first quarter of this year, falling from 18 to 12 deals. But on the whole, things are looking up, and this temporary rain cloud is tempered by the finding that stock prices for home health and hospice companies are hitting some record highs, according to the site.

The takeaway? The industry is doing much better this year than last year, as Home Health Care News assured readers. The site reminded everyone that in 2015, deals were down a slightly depressing 33 percent compared to 2014.

More patients want to use EHRs
You and your agency staff can know that EHRs and interoperability will make your lives a lot easier – and enable you to provide a much higher level of care – but if patients don’t want to spend time tapping and typing away on health monitoring devices and portals, then you’ve got a problem. Fortunately, it seems that attitudes toward EHRs and digital health tools is continuing to improve.

A new study found that almost 75 percent of patients self-report that they have a high level of interest in viewing and accessing their electronic medical records, according to Healthcare IT News. Another welcome finding was that 33 percent of patients believe that EHRs have already improved their healthcare experience.

The study was based off of results from a survey conducted by CareCloud. One it’s most interesting findings was that baby boomers are the demographic most likely to use digital healthcare tools, not millennials, whom everyone seems to assume are on the up and up with those kinds of things. The group’s most-preferred method of online health interaction was an online patient portal. Some 62 percent of the group use technology to access their personal health records, and an impressive 50 percent use digital tools to order refills for the prescription, according to the source.

The times they are a’changing, to be sure:

“The patient experience is dramatically transforming,” said CareCloud CEO Ken Comee in a statement. “Patients of all ages are actually embracing digital online patient engagement tools from scheduling appointments to accessing their medical records and making online payments.”

rising Home health and hospice M&A deals doubled over the year.

CMS addresses home health and hospice issues at Open Door Forum
Last but not least, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services held an Open Door Forum on the home health and hospice industry July 13. Meeting attendees covered a range of important issues, from the updates to the Home Health Prospective Payment System that you can expect to see next year to hospice payment reforms, according to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.

NAHC noted that another hot-button issue discussed was HHQRP, or the Home Health Quality Reporting Program. CMS proposed several changes to the program. It wants to remove 28 measures and add four new ones that are mandated by the IMPACT (Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation) Act, NAHC explained:

  • Drug Regimen review conducted with follow-up – OASIS (Outcome and Assessment Information Set)
  • MSPB (Medicare Spending Per Beneficiary)
  • Discharge to community
  • Potentially preventable 30-day post-discharge readmission

You can access transcripts of the forum and other related materials here.