High-Value Home Health Care for Patients With Heart Failure
An Opportunity to Optimize Transitions From Hospital to Home
This article requires a subscription to view the full text. If you have a subscription you may use the login form below to view the article. Access to this article can also be purchased.
Challenges and Opportunities With Home Health Care
In recent years, public reporting, targeted financial penalties, and incentives to develop alternative payment models that include the assumption of financial risk have compelled hospitals to focus on reducing readmission rates for high-cost conditions such as heart failure (HF). When older patients with multiple medical conditions including HF are discharged from the hospital, they are vulnerable to adverse events, which may result in recurrent hospitalization (the post-hospital syndrome).1 In theory, providing home health nursing and therapy could promote recovery in vulnerable HF patients with post-hospital syndrome and potentially reduce readmissions.
Within the United States, home health care (HHC) referrals after acute care hospitalization increased by 65% to 3.7 million between 2001 and 2012.2,3 Patients discharged from US hospitals with a primary diagnosis of HF had the highest number of HHC referrals during this time, with ≈200 000 post-acute HHC referrals in 2012.2 In addition, HHC surpassed skilled nursing facilities as the most frequently used post-acute care among Medicare beneficiaries with HF in 2012 (unpublished HCUPnet data). Such an increase in HHC use for patients with HF is likely related to multiple factors, including decreasing length of stay for patients with HF4 and more recent pressures to improve readmission rates for HF after adoption of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, which included the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program that was implemented in 2012.5,6 Despite substantial growth in post-acute HHC referrals for patients with HF,2 it is unclear whether HHC delivered in real-world settings consistently provides high-value care. Understanding the characteristics of effective post-acute HHC for patients with HF will inform best practices, optimal outcomes for cost, and ultimately high-value care.
Medicare Home Health Policy and Payment
Because most patients referred for skilled HHC are Medicare beneficiaries, Medicare eligibility and payment policies have important implications for HHC. Patients who …