Chicago-based NorthShore–Edward-Elmhurst Health is expanding its partnership with Residential Home Health and Hospice.
The partnership between the two companies was established about 15 years ago. But now, Residential Hospice will act as a preferred provider of hospice services at the health system, NorthShore indicated in a press release.
NorthShore folded its in-house hospice and community-based palliative care programs into Residential in 2023, a transition that is expected to be completed this month.
“Our focus as a system and with this partnership is to provide safe, seamless and personal care for our home health and hospice patients in the communities we serve,” said Michael Hartke, president of the health system’s parent company Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH), in a statement. “By expanding the partnership with Residential at NCH and integrating NCH’s palliative service offering into [NorthShore–Edward-Elmhurst Health’s] in-house program, we will even better be able to meet our patients’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs.”
The expanded relationship reflects two larger health care trends impacting hospice providers — the entry of more health systems in the home-based care space and the growing importance of preferred provider networks, a new area in which hospices must compete.
Coupled with the entry of more payers into the space, the influx of health systems into home health, hospice and community-based palliative care stands to change the competitive dynamics in markets nationwide.
By 2050, adults 65 and older in the United States will comprise an estimated 88 million, representing 22.1% of the country’s total population, according to a 2015 report by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The vast majority of these will have multiple chronic conditions and, within our current system, will likely be high utilizers of hospital- and facility-based services.
The number of seniors in need of specialized, high-acuity inpatient care is anticipated to climb by 17% during the next decade, according to recent research from Vizient and subsidiary Sg2. Outpatient volumes will grow as well, by 16%, the research indicated.
This not only drives up health care costs, but it also strains hospitals’ limited capacity — particularly in a time of ongoing labor shortages. This paradigm flies in the face of patients’ wishes. As early as 2011, more than 90% of U.S. seniors indicated that they wished to age in place in their residences, AARP research found.
These factors, along with the growing prominence of home-based care, are leading hospitals and health systems to make greater investments in that space, including hospice. Some are pursuing this by establishing or expanding their own programs, while others, like NorthShore, are leveraging partnerships with independent hospice providers.