Patients of Arizona-based Valor Health had an unexpected visitor in early March—CEO Dan Peterson, who recently had a chance to make rounds with his company’s interdisciplinary care team.
“It was great to be so close to the clinical team and see the passion they bring to patient care,” Peterson told Hospice News. “I love working in a setting like this where the administrative team can be close to the care providers so we never lose sight of what is truly important.”
Valor provides hospice and palliative care to more than 100 patients every day throughout southeastern Arizona, including the Tucson area, Nogales, and a number of other communities. In addition to its longstanding hospice service, the company last year introduced Valor Health Services, which provides home health care in private residences, assisted living facilities and other care settings.
Peterson came to Valor in February as the company’s new CEO after serving as executive vice president of Tucson-based CareMore Health Plan, a provider of primary care and other outpatient services.
In a telephone interview with Hospice News, he shared his perspectives on pressing matters in the hospice space, including regulation, quality, staffing shortages, and other critical issues.
What did you learn during your tenure at CareMore that you may wish to bring to Valor?
At CareMore our highest priorities were patient care outcomes, patient satisfaction, and CMS star ratings. That was critical to our success.
Valor has always prioritized quality, but I want to bring renewed focus on patient outcomes and patient satisfaction. We are paying close attention to things like rapid responses to changes in the patient’s condition and treatment of pain and symptoms.
Regulatory scrutiny is increasing for hospices how does your company work to prepare and prevent a potential audits?
I understand the need to be compliant and to make sure we administer the taxpayer dollar appropriately. When I first started at Valor I was amazed at the amount of work put into compliance and policies. It needs to be a part of every hospice organization’s fabric. Hospice providers need to be focused on compliance, which involves constant education and staying current with regulatory changes.
I fully believe that is one of any hospice company’s top priorities. I came in knowing that we have to do well in that regard and make sure we follow the rules at every turn.
There has been much discussion of staffing shortages in hospice care, is this issue on your radar?
Yes. very much so. We have a great core team here, but I have also been working on growing the team so we have a great chassis to move forward and spark excitement about what we do. Just recently a couple of former colleagues have recently joined to help with human resources, compliance, and growth.
We want to take care of our staff, social workers, nurses and aides. We want nurture them. and make sure they know how important they are to the overall success of the company. And we are doing everything we can to get the word out about positions and let people know that we are a great place to work.
Do you have any comment on the Medicare Advantage carve-in for hospice that is being tested for 2021?
I am generally in favor of it. I think it will lead to better coordination and cooperation. Right now I think there are some good examples of what it would look like when Medicare Advantage and a hospice are partnering, but I think the formal connection could lead to smoother care and better coordination.
There has been quite a bit of M&A activity in the hospice space in recent years. Do you expect this to continue, and is this something you would consider pursuing?
The eye on the horizon sees continued merger & acquisition involvement in hospice in the long term. Right now at Valor we are focused on being the best we can and proving what we can do. That said, we are always looking for opportunities for how we can grow, whether we are doing the acquiring or whether we partner with other entities. But in the near term we are focused on doing what we do.