What a Physician Looks for in a Home Health and Hospice Provider
  • honesty about service lines provided
  • adequate staffing
  • geographic areas covered

In addition, the provider should also have a qualified medical director overseeing medical care rather than a physician appointed simply because he or she comes from a large practice that serves as a potential source of referrals.

“In home health care, communication and detailed records of patient progress are important,” says Dr. Parker, who is double board certified in family medicine and hospice/palliative care. “If a patient’s goal is to be able to walk 50 feet to the mailbox and has progressed to 10 feet, this needs to be documented and explained. Otherwise, no one will know of the actual progress that’s being made and pressure could escalate.”

Dr. Parker is referring to increasing penalties assessed against physicians and hospitals for “bounce-backs,” or patients who return to the hospital too soon after being treated. This trend, in turn, underscores the need for home health and hospice providers to work closely with primary physicians and specialists to keep patients home and from returning to the hospital unless absolutely necessary.

He notes that there is also a common misconception that home hospice is only for the homebound who are at end-of-life. The program is actually designed to provide support services such as pain management and bereavement counseling for six months.

“If the patient is already at the very end when they contact home hospice, it doesn’t give the hospice providers time to help the patient and their family prepare. Patients eligible for home health must have a disease process that limits activities, but they might still be able to go to the grocery store on their own,” says Dr. Parker.