A rising number of nonprofit hospices are forming regional affiliations in an effort to remain competitive with large for-profit players in the space. One of the originators of this practice, Ohio’s Hospice, is seeing steady growth, engaging new member organizations and a completing a substantial renovation of its headquarters in Washington Township, Ohio.
Coalitions such as Ohio’s Hospice enable nonprofits to enter group purchasing agreements or contracting agreements, share marketing costs, or share staff, particularly for back office functions like billing. Ohio’s Hospice was founded in 2013 with three member organizations and in the intervening years expanded to nine members, in addition to entering into joint ventures and other community organizations.
Recently, two additional hospice providers have joined the affiliation, Valley Hospice, based in Rayland, Ohio, and Community Hospice, based in New Philadelphia. These organizations will be the coalition’s first associate members.
“By joining as an associate member, we are able to access expertise and services that help to ensure the long-term success of the shared mission of serving more patients and their families with even higher levels of hospice care,” said Cynthia Bougher, CEO of Valley Hospice. “Through this membership arrangement we will have more resources to provide care to our patients and their families.”
Ohio’s Hospice has served as a model for similar affiliations in other states.
In February four nonprofit hospice organizations in Oregon affiliated under the brand Oregon Non-Profit Hospice Alliance (OHNA). The partnership collects donations to promote the benefits of non-profit hospice care in that state, as well as sharing opportunities for quality benchmarking, payer contracting, best-practice implementation, and cultivating greater efficiency.
Three California-based hospices — the Elizabeth Hospice in San Diego, Mission Hospice & Home Care in San Mateo and Hospice of Santa Cruz County — in August formed a strategic partnership called the California Hospice Network. Both the Oregon and California affiliations cited Ohio’s Hospice as a model for their partnerships.
Finding ways to remain competitive against large hospice companies, often backed with private equity funds, has become an imperative for nonprofit providers.
The number of hospice providers in the United States during 2017 rose 2.4%, with for-profit providers representing 100 percent of the growth, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MEDPAC) annual report to Congress. That same year, the number of non-profit hospices declined 3.5%.
Larger numbers of for-profit companies have been entering the hospice space seeking to capitalize on growing demand as the population ages. Non-profit organizations in 1990 provided 95%of hospice care in the United States. By 2017, for-profit companies represented 69% of the hospice market, while the non-profit market share dropped to 27%, MEDPAC reported. Government providers accounted for approximately 3%.
“Working, sharing and planning together creates for stronger community hospices and enhances the quality of care and services in the communities we serve,” said Kent Anderson, president and CEO of Ohio’s Hospice. “With our strategic partnership, we continue to grow, protect jobs and maintain strong connections with local partners.”