After 75 years of service, Georgia-based hospice provider Visiting Nurse Health System (VNHS) has its sights set on the future.
Founded in 1948, the organization was the first home-based care provider to operate in Georgia, and in 1975 launched the state’s first hospice program. A major goal for 2024 will be to maximize the benefits of its technology investments.
The company has pioneered a number of technologies that are becoming increasingly common in the post-acute space. For example, VNHS implemented its remote patient monitoring program in 2007. More recently it has dipped its toes into the realm of predictive analytics.
“We have for five years invested in a platform which has become the repository of claims data coming in. It’s predictive analytics, but there’s an AI component to it,” VNHS CEO Dorothy Davis told Hospice News. “It has been a huge, foundational part of how we think in that broad sense of that patient journey, that that’s really an important cultural thing that we’ve set in motion.”
Predictive analytics technology can give hospice providers expanded visibility into patient conditions and overall experiences as they reach the most critical stages at the end of life, she said. Operators are increasingly using these systems to build their census and ensure that patients and families receive the right care at the right time and improve performance on quality measures.
For example, data gathered from predictive analytics systems can give hospices an advantage when it comes to performance on measures like Hospice Visits in the Last Days of Life (HVLDL) and the Hospice Care Index (HCI), as well as predicting when patients become hospice eligible or will be in need to home health or palliative care services.
Headquartered in Atlanta, VNHS Today, offers hospice, palliative care, home health, private duty and other services to more than 13,000 patients annually across 57 Georgia counties. In 2022, the organization’s clinicians made more than more than 104,000 hospice and home health visits and upwards of 260 for palliative care, according to its most recent annual report.
Seniors represented 14.7% of Georgia’s population in 2023 and is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 1.27%, according to the state’s Department of Human Services. By 2023, the proportion of seniors is expected to exceed 20%.
More than 55,000 patients died in hospice care during 2021, the most recent year for which data are available, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported.
Further on the horizon, VNHS is eying the potential benefits of generative AI to build greater efficiency into their workflows and aid with recruitment and retention. Generative AI systems can produce text, images or other information based on patterns existing data. Providers nationwide have increasingly used such platforms for streamlining clinical teams’ workflows, for example, including time spent on documentation.
“We have not been using AI in the generative view. We’re working with some of our business partners on automation through AI processes,” Davis said. “I’m much more interested in how generative AI can help our clinicians, but I would say that is still down the road, and it’s still too new.”