Why Care Collaborations Could Shake Up the Home Health Food Chain

In the animal kingdom, there’s strength in numbers, especially among creatures that find themselves toward the bottom of the food chain. This concept is also true in today’s hyper-competitive health care sector.

Increasingly, smaller providers with relatively limited resources and reach are teaming up in the form of “collaboratives,” “alliances,” “networks” or “partnerships.” Nowhere is this trend more prevalent than in hospice, where at least a dozen high-profile collaboratives have launched over the past five years.

“Many nonprofits are standalone operations covering a relatively small service area,” one hospice CFO from the San Francisco area told Hospice News in 2019. “When you are going up against a regional or national chain, you have to band together.”

An enhanced ability to contract with payers, more bargaining power with vendors and greater economies of scale are a few of the strategic advantages of “the care collaborative model.” In addition to those benefits, participating organizations can freely share – and improve upon – best practices and protocols.

“One of the things that really served us well as far as these collaborations was the responsiveness to the COVID pandemic,” Eric Tetzlaff, administrator of Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice, told Hospice News.

Despite a history of success in hospice, the home health market has seen relatively few care collaboratives. But as agencies face mounting challenges and fiercer competition while simultaneously transitioning away from fee-for-service Medicare, the strategy could very likely pick up steam, I believe.

In this week’s exclusive, members-only HHCN+ Update, I explore how care collaborations have impacted the hospice industry and detail how such a trend could benefit home health providers in the future.

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