As we’re almost mid-way through the year, 2022 has been full of challenges and opportunities for hospice and home health providers.
For example, under the FY 2022 rule from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), hospices that satisfy quality reporting requirements will see a 2.0 percent increase in their payments compared to 2021, which amounts to approximately $480 million in total.1 Meanwhile, according to data from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s 2021 Facts and Figures report, the total number of hospice providers continues to grow across the country — since 2014, the number of hospice providers has increased by nearly 20 percent.2
The challenge for hospice and home health providers is to ensure they have enough staff to meet increased demand and satisfy quality reporting requirements. Since the start of the pandemic 30 percent of staff have thought about reducing their total hours worked, and 20 percent have considered leaving the field entirely.3 To keep pace with increasing patient demand and reduced staff availability, many providers are looking to expand their service offerings with the addition of private duty care.
What is Private Duty?
Private duty is similar to home health care in that it provides care for patients in their homes, allowing them to stay somewhere familiar and comfortable for as long as possible. Where it differs is in the service delivery model. Home health care plans are covered by Medicare, provided by skilled nursing or health professionals, and supervised by physicians or registered nurses.4 Private duty programs use a combination of skilled and non-skilled staff to help patients with tasks around their homes and provide companionship to improve patients’ overall quality of life.
How Can it Help Hospices?
The addition of private duty programs can help hospices in two ways:
1) Providing an additional revenue stream
2) Providing private duty options all within the same agency
This additional revenue stream is critical as hospice and home health providers face the challenge of growing staff shortages. Having private duty teams under the larger hospice umbrella makes it possible to cross train staff thereby bridging the gap between available workers and patient demand which, in turn, help to reduce revenue fluctuations.
Incorporating private duty into hospice and home health programs can also improve patient care by improving interdisciplinary communication across the business lines since all staff work for the same agency. This can be further enhanced if the software solution can support all business lines in the same medical record, instantly improving visibility for the care of all the patient’s needs.
Delivering on the Potential of Private Duty
Simply adding a private duty program to existing provider frameworks isn’t enough to make the most of this approach. Why? Because additional staff can create additional complexity — if teams are double-booked or private duty staff don’t have the ability to easily enter and access key patient data, home health and hospice providers may find themselves spending more time on process management than delivering patient-centered care.
It’s critical to consider the systems in place to support an expansion into private care. This includes electronic health records (EHRs) and scheduling systems along with compliance reporting tools and access management solutions. In other words, for those considering bringing private duty under the hospice and home health umbrella, it’s important to make sure it’s big enough for everyone.
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Note: Net Health makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any of the information presented herein. All information is provided on an as-is basis. It is the viewer’s responsibility to verify any and all information presented herein.
Changing Landscape of Healthcare: Hospice, HH, Palliative Care & Private Duty
2 National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, “NHCPO Facts and Figures 2021 Edition,” October 2021.
3 Hospice News, “Workforce Shortage Shutting Down Hospice Programs,” August 16, 2021.
4 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services CMS, “Home Health Providers,” January 19, 2022.