End-of-life care is undergoing enormous change in recent years–spurred by a wave of aging baby boomers, more people suffering from chronically ill diseases and new approaches to care that are changing the way people experience the last days of their life.
Hospice care at the forefront
On the one hand, hospice care has never been more front and center. Whereas in the past, it was viewed as a smaller, separate post-acute care service, today it plays a much larger, more integral role in the overall continuum of care.
Just this year, lawmakers introduced the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) to increase the availability and quality of care. If the proposed legislation become law (it passed in the House in July, and is expected to eventually pass through the Senate and White House), it will require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide support for palliative care and hospice education centers, as well as support to medical schools, teaching hospitals and other centers that plan to teach palliative medicine. The bill also calls for a national awareness campaign to inform patients, families and health professionals about the benefits of palliative care, and for the National Institutes of Health to expand national palliative care research programs.
More people are choosing hospice care, and providers are expanding to meet demand. The number of hospices in the U.S. increased by 43% between 2006 and 2016. Not only are there more hospices to choose from, they’re evolving with innovative new services to improve care and provide emotional and spiritual support in a home setting—which is where the majority of American’s would prefer to spend their final days.
Challenges lie ahead
Growth does not come without its challenges—and the hospice industry saw its share of them in 2018, including a growing opioid crises and greater regulatory scrutiny as governmental agencies continued to ramp up efforts to uncover instances of fraud, waste and abuse.
Many in the industry are concerned about their ability to successfully respond to regulators. According to a recent survey, nearly half (46%) of hospice providers showed a lack of full confidence in their ability to survive a federal audit without facing potential penalties, fines or loss of productivity that could financially impact their business.
That said, hospice providers are not sitting back idly. Many are taking action to address these challenges with hospice software that empowers them with greater insight and control over billing, operational and clinical practices.They’re also working with other industry stakeholders and advocates to push for change on Capital Hill.
To learn more about trends impacting hospice care and what the next year will bring to the industry, be sure to read our white paper: Top 6 Trends Impacting Hospice Care in 2019.