For many in the home health care industry, ongoing hurdles to reimbursement can be insurmountable.
But for smaller agencies, reimbursement issues can also provide additional incentive to scale their operations.
“I love the care we provide in our community and see it making a difference in the lives of our patients,” said Tonya Gray, director of health and home care services at UW Health Northern Illinois , at Home Health Care News. . “We have an aging population that is not going to disappear; It’s going to spread, that’s for sure. And I love that I’m right in the middle of it all.
UW Health, based in Rockford, Illinois, is a hospital-based home provider that offers a number of different services, including home health services, home care, home infusions and pharmacy services to the residents of Illinois and Wisconsin.
Despite some reimbursement challenges that may exist for a small provider — UW Health has just under 100 employees — Gray said there is reason to still be optimistic.
One of the reasons Gray is so optimistic is where she works. His organization essentially created a one-stop shop for senior care.
“I like that we are hospital-based and can continue that continuum of care on the post-acute side,” Gray said. “The patient can have their entire experience with UW Health. On the clinic side, after their discharge, they come to see us, and I like being part of this continuum of care.
Many home care providers and other businesses are finding their own way to become a one-stop shop.
In the case of UW Health, the long-term viability of the strategy will come down to minimizing costs and becoming a more efficient company.
“You will always face the challenge of not having enough reimbursement to cover your expenses,” Gray said. “So you need to get creative and find ways to minimize your costs and be more efficient in the workplace. »
Today, staffing continues to be an obstacle Gray focuses on.
“It’s the one that can keep you up at night,” she said. “I have more referrals than I can accommodate, and it bothers me that I have to turn some away due to staff shortages. »
Gray and her team are trying different ways to attract more nurses. From old-school approaches like on-site hiring events to new-school strategies like lucrative signing bonuses, UW Health tries a little bit of everything.
“We had a hiring event this morning and made four offers today,” Gray said. “I’m very optimistic about it and I like this approach. It’s quite different from the way we usually recruit here. We also offer a $15,000 sign-on bonus to our full-time registered nurses. In my opinion, we have a very lucrative benefits package. We offer tuition reimbursement, we have daycare on campus. These are just a few of the things we offer and our HR team does a great job ensuring our pay rates are comparable to those offered in our market sector.
As some reimbursement models move toward value, Gray said UW Health has “dived itself into value-based arrangements.”
Again, Gray said being part of a health system is an advantage.
“Most of our quality metrics are based on value-based purchasing,” Gray said. “Our health system has a system-wide readmission team and home care is part of that. We take a seat at the table to examine our readmission rates and ensure measures are put in place to prevent rehospitalization.