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Health, Science & Tech

Home Health and Hospice Forum to Meet in March

Two Pennsylvania health care organizations are coming together to establish the Home Health and Hospice Forum.

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) and the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) are reaching out to independent healthcare providers by holding an open forum to address issues and concerns about the impact of reform on the home health industry.

PHA spokeswoman Jennifer Haggerty said issues such as care transitions, chronic care management and consumer and family-focused care will be addressed.

“The way that healthcare is changing,” she said. “It’s becoming a lot more about value rather than volume. In the past, providers were reimbursed by the number of tests that were ordered or surgeries or things like that, whereas now it’s really a lot more focused on values and outcomes.”

According to the 2010 report by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, Pennsylvania home health agencies saw more than 150,000 patients with 3.3 million household visits. State hospice agencies cared for nearly 58,000 patients for 3.8 million days. Combined, the two healthcare methods received more than $1 billion in Medicare reimbursement.

Haggerty said home healthcare can be less expensive than hospital stays.

“Hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations cost Medicare a lot of money,” she said, “far more than a home health episode of care. So, in addition to providing care to people in their homes where they want to be, we also are a huge cost-savings.”

HAP represents about 240 specialty care facilities across the state and PHA is made up of more than 500 homecare and hospice providers.

Haggerty said the forum is all about getting in touch with independent healthcare groups.

“I think the goal is to come out of this forum with a real action plan to really take advantage of those reforms and have a blueprint to work with other providers,” she said.

The first meeting is March 4 at the HAP offices in Harrisburg.