The Natural Evolution of a Healthy Industry
The home healthcare industry faces many challenges, but one of the most significant issues is the delineation occurring between agencies. The division is happening between those agencies that are advancing towards becoming chronic care management companies and those agencies that are either choosing not to evolve or do not realize the shift that is happening in home healthcare industry and the overall healthcare continuum. In most industries this would be seen as a competitive win for those that are developing into a more complex model of care; however, the entire industry’s buy-in is necessary to take advantage of opportunities to push productive industry policies forward in order to become the center of the chronic care continuum. Because the industry is made up of mostly smaller providers, the industry’s national associations will likely waiver in their efforts to push home healthcare to the center of the chronic care management continuum, which many would agree is the best path for the industry and overall healthcare system.
There are two certainties for home healthcare and hospice: 1) reimbursement cuts will continue to be a constant threat to industry margins and 2) the large publicly traded companies will continue to get larger. Neither of these threats means the demise of the industry, but they will continue to change the dynamics of how small and mid-size agencies compete. From a positive prospective, the industry is well positioned to care for a wave of baby boomers with chronic diseases that will tax an ill-prepared healthcare system. To take advantage of an opportunity to become the healthcare continuum’s leader in chronic care management, home healthcare will have to consider how it is currently perceived in the healthcare system, evolve from basic home health care to true chronic care management companies and find industry leadership to effect policy change before stronger competing industries can marginalize the industry’s role.