Liza Berger headshot
Liza Berger

In the long-term care space, the tectonic plates are constantly shifting.

Take institutional settings. A few years ago, thanks in part to the higher fee-for-service Medicare Part A rates, nursing homes began to branch off into those that started offering skilled nursing care. Now, of course, nearly every facility offers some type of skilled care, including more acute services. It is those facilities that offer only custodial long-term care that, in a sense, have been left behind.

A similar pattern may be taking place in the home care sector. While home care has been associated with both long-term care and short-term medical care, a strong new segment is emerging: acute care in the home.

The tea leaves seem to be suggesting that the latter may eventually overtake the traditional service model. Increasingly, there are signs pointing in this direction.

This week, for example, LHC Group disclosed it teamed up with SCP Health to offer skilled nursing facility (SNF)-at-home and hospital-at-home programs.

“If this public health emergency has taught us anything, it is that we must all embrace innovative models that allow patients to receive quality care — including more advanced care — at home,” LHC Group CEO Keith Myers said in a statement.

Last week, Amedisys made a similar move, acquiring hospital-at-home specialist Contessa Health.

The continuing growth of firms like DispatchHealth is yet another indication that acute care in the home is here to stay. The company, which has partnered with behemoth Humana, owner of Kindred at Home, provides in-home hospitalization and recovery care. Roughly 100 million people in 18 states now have access to DispatchHealth’s teams of nurse practitioners and medical technicians. 

“The home health nurses often receive an alert from a patient who has reached the top of [the nurse’s] scope of license. They would traditionally refer the patients to the ER. Instead, they can call us and we’ll safely keep the patient in the home,” Mark Prather, M.D., DispatchHealth co-founder and CEO, explained to McKnight’s Home Care Daily.

The move to care in the home continues to intensify. Pushing the current along is the strong wind of acute care. If institutional long-term care is any guide, it may be best for those in the home care sector not to resist this new trend but to move with it.

Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at liza.berger@mcknights.com.