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A Look into the Rising Referral Rejections in Home Health

    Despite no COVID-19 surge this winter, rejection rates for home health referrals have risen to an all-time high of 76%. The increase is due to staffing shortages, reimbursement setbacks, and the fact that patients admitted to home health care tend to have higher acuity. This has been backed up in a 2022 report by Wellsky company, Careport, a leading care coordination network, bringing together acute and post-acute EHR data. The report, which analyzed data from 1,000 hospitals and 130,000 post-acute care providers, found that patients discharged to home health providers in 2022 had higher acuity and more complex conditions than those in 2019, resulting in an 11% increase in the average comorbidity score.

    In general, higher acuity patients require more post-discharge services, which can increase the complexity of providing necessary care.

    Addressing Staffing and Operational Capacity

    It is a disappointing reality that despite the growing demand for home health care, many agencies struggle to keep up with it and capitalize on the business opportunities it presents. Home health agencies need to revisit their operational dynamics to adapt to these trends, which reflect the current industry landscape. 

    Given that staffing is one of the primary concerns for home health agencies, improving retention and recruitment efforts is crucial. To retain staff, agencies can address clinicians’ pain points by streamlining documentation work, leveraging technology, offering monetary incentives, and providing training programs, and flexible work schedules. In order to develop a suitable strategy for achieving their expansion goals while maintaining a strong workforce, home health agencies need to review and understand their operational capacities and limitations.

    Maximizing Clinical Staffing for Patient Care

    An increase in patient census equates to an increase in documentation work, which can be challenging for clinicians. For agencies to be able to accept more patients, they must also address the documentation and back-office tasks that come with it. Outsourcing these functions allows agencies to maximize clinical staffing for patient care. As a result, agencies can increase their capacity to take on more patients and focus further recruitment efforts for patient care, saving them valuable time and resources.