Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED) has partnered with the UMC Health System in Texas to launch a new hospice and home health location. The new operation will serve patients in Lubbock and the surrounding communities.
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing patients anxiety about receiving institutional care, the outbreak has accelerated the trend of moving more health care into the home. Hospital systems are increasingly seeking to bolster their community-based services, as evidenced most recently by HCA Healthcare’s (NYSE: HCA) $400 million purchase of a majority stake in Brookdale Senior Living’s (NYSE: BKD) hospice and home health segment.
“UMC Health System was looking for a home care-based partner to help expand our home health influence and add a hospice service line. Amedisys was looking to get into the Lubbock market,” Aaron Davis, chief experience officer at UMC, told Hospice News. “UMC Health System reached out to Amedisys, and as we met and discussed this opportunity, it became clear to both organizations that we each were focused on quality patient care and serving people well.”
The scale and reputation of Amedisys hospice operations were attractive to UMC, which is launching its first home-based hospice service through this deal, according to Davis. Amedisys had the resources to hit the ground running in opening the new agency, which was also a factor in the health systems decision to pursue a partnership.
UMC owns 50% and Amedisys owns 50% of the new location, branded as UMC Home Health and Hospice, an Amedisys partner, LLC.
Demographic tailwinds have been fueling a thriving hospice market in Texas. The Lone Star State has the third largest elderly population in the nation, according to the Texas Demographic Center, a state institution. The number of Texans 65 or older grew by 49.5% between 2000 and 2014. Only California experienced a higher rate of increase among their senior population.
Texas ranks 15th among the states in hospice utilization, with 52.8% of Medicare decedents electing hospice in 2018, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. Utah had the highest rate of utilization that year at 60.5%, compared to a national average of slightly more than 50%.
“UMC Health System wants to improve our home health quality and work with home care experts to provide the best care for our patients and our community. As UMC researched starting a hospice agency, the success of Amedisys Hospice made them an extremely attractive partner,” Davis said. “The partnership combines UMC Health System’s local market reputation and Amedisys’ home care expertise and support systems.”