Forces of change are pushing home health and home care into more acute care delivery models, such as hospital-at-home and SNF-at-home, the chief strategy and innovation officer for home health and hospice at Encompass Health, said last week.

Bud Langham

“There are tailwinds for those programs that are going to nudge us more into that space,” said Bud Langham during a webinar sponsored by the Synzi, a telehealth technology company. Encompass Health, the nation’s largest rehab company, also provides home health and hospice. 

There are signals that the post-care space is going to change, he said. The goal is high-quality services that prevent emergency room visits, he said. The role of home health and home care agencies “is going to continue to expand,” he said.

Driving the change, in part, is the focus by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, payers and multiple demonstrations to bring down the total cost of care, he said.

“One way to do that is to provide as much care as clinically appropriate in the home,” he said, adding, “Home healthcare agencies have to be prepared to take sicker patients with more acuity.”

The pandemic has helped to accelerate the trend, he noted. It has led to a “why not try home?” approach, he said.

Everyone is getting ready to take care of a higher-acuity patient “and I don’t see that changing any time soon,” he said.