The next generation of hospice CEOs will need to be data-savvy to succeed.
Data is more crucial to hospice businesses than ever before when it comes to payer and referral partner contracting, compliance and building their census. In negotiations with Medicare Advantage plans, for instance, hospice and palliative care providers will need to demonstrate their performance in terms of star ratings, other quality metrics and reduced hospitalizations.
But even outside of new payment models, upstream providers are looking more closely at the numbers when selecting hospice partners.
These factors mean that hospice leaders will need a strong grasp on data collection and analysis, according to Bill Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC).
“As an industry, we’ve really lagged behind in the data to show what we do. This is especially true if you’re trying to show the value of something,” Dombi told Hospice News. “It’s sort of this chicken-and-the-egg thing with the data piece, which is tied to technology.”
The nitty gritty details of data management matter when it comes to ensuring both a healthy bottom line and quality patient care.
This includes performance on quality measures required by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Hospice Care Index (HCI), the Hospice Item Set, and Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys.
The health care sector’s growing appetite for numbers is also driving many hospices’ technology investments. Predictive analytics and machine learning tools in particular are emerging technologies that are of growing importance in the space.
Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence that uses algorithms and statistical models to detect patterns in data and make predictions based on those patterns. Hospices are implementing these systems to identify earlier patients in need of their services, as well as to track outcomes and alert care teams when death may be imminent.
Predictive analytics is the technology that hospice leaders expect to generate the highest returns on investment in 2023, according to the 2023 Hospice News Outlook Survey and Report, produced in collaboration with Homecare Homebase. The report is based on an online survey of nearly 330 hospice professionals.
Of those, 21% said predictive analytics offers the highest returns, with staff training technology a close second at 20%.
“Using data for analysis and making business decisions will be the norm, and [hospices] have kind of struggled a little bit with that,” Susan Hunt, board chair for North Hawaii Hospice, told Hospice News. “We have the electronic medical records, but mining data out of it has been a bit challenging. So I’m hoping that the new generation of managers who come in are technologically proficient with regards to how to manage data and maximize reimbursements.”
The list of data that hospices need to track continues to grow, including those associated with health equity. CMS and MA plans are increasingly interested in how hospices are addressing access issues within their service communities.
For instance, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation’s (CMMI) last year announced a “strategy refresh” that includes a heavy emphasis on health care equity in future payment model design. The Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access and Community Health (ACO REACH) is among the first new models to use this approach.
The agency is also integrating health equity data collection into the value-based insurance design model demonstration, which includes the Medicare Advantage hospice carve-in.
“The existing structure for hospice and the per diem payments have been around pretty long,” Hunt said. “But with value-based reimbursement models that are being proposed, we’re going to need to look at a whole new aspect of data management, data collection and data analysis. For the younger generation, using data for analysis and making business decisions will be the norm.”