As 2021 came to a close, it’s worth taking a look at some of the top hospice industry trends last year and what they meant for providers. Let’s get started.
1) Changing Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) Frameworks
On January 1st, 2021, CMS began testing the Hospice Benefit Component of the Value-Based Design (VBID) model.1 According to the official CMS overview, “This test allows CMS to assess the impact on care delivery and quality of care, especially for palliative and hospice care, when participating Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are financially responsible for all Parts A and B benefits.”
Under the VBID model, participating Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) are responsible for both services and billing. In practice, this means that hospice providers must send both notices and claims directly to MAOs and Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) for processing. As a result, questions around eligibility, enrollment and billing must all be directed to MAOs, which in turn drives the need for accurate, automated and agile data collection and reporting frameworks.
Since the VBID model is still in its testing phases, more will be in development come 2022.
2) Expansion of Medicare Hospice Utilization
According to the 2021 edition of the NHPCO Facts and Figures report, use of hospice providers by Medicare beneficiaries is on the rise.2 While the pandemic is partly responsible for this uptick, changing demographics also play a role. With more than 50 million Americans now over 65 and the number projected to increase through 2060.3 Now is the time to think outside the box and lay the groundwork for both hybrid and remote IDG teams that can serve hospice patients wherever the patient resides.
3) Addressing Continuing Challenges With Late Hospice Access
The NHPCO report also notes that late access to hospice care remains a challenge for providers — 50 percent of patients received hospice care for 18 days or less, and 25 percent received care for five days or less.4 These short stays simply aren’t enough to make best use of hospice environments, which rely on both the provision of compassionate care and the cultivation of caregiver and patient relationships to help facilitate emotional and social support. Moving forward, there’s more to explore when it comes to helping patients and families understand their options and access the care they need, when they need it.
4) An Increase of Technology Adoption
2021 also saw a significant uptick in technology adoption — such as hospice software, instant video chat technology and hospice management suites — designed to streamline operations and ensure compliance. As Hospice News points out, effective technology deployment can help optimize IDG teams across disparate locations, improve communication between families and caregivers and reduce hospice staff burnout by centralizing and digitizing document input and management responsibilities.5
Top hospice trends in 2021 make it clear that providers face both challenges and opportunities in a rapidly-changing industry that requires new regulatory implementation and technology adoption to meet evolving utilization and access requirements.
Looking to stay ahead of hospice trends? Start with Net Health Hospice.
The Medicare Advantage VBID Model for Hospices: What to Know
Learn about the MA Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) model and its hospice benefit component.
1 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “VBID Model Hospice Benefit Component Overview,” September 29, 2021.
2 National Hospice Palliative Care Organization, “NHPCO’s New Facts and Figures Report Shows Changes in Hospice Patient Diagnoses,” October 28, 2021.
3 United States Census Bureau, “National Senior Citizens Day: August 21, 2021,” August 21, 2021.
4 National Hospice Palliative Care Organization, “NHPCO’s New Facts and Figures Report Shows Changes in Hospice Patient Diagnoses,” October 28, 2021.
5 Hospice News, “Three Ways Technology Combats Nurse Burnout in Hospice Care,” February 9, 2021.