Home health after hospitalization can cut costs, readmissions

The use of home health care for chronically ill patients after they leave the hospital can reduce Medicare spending and readmissions, concludes a new study by Avalere Health, LLC.

Discharging Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or congestive heart failure to their homes resulted in about 20,426 fewer hospital readmissions than if they had received other post-acute care services. Those fewer readmissions saved Medicare nearly $670 million from October 2006 through September 2009, according to the study.

The study, commissioned by The Home Health Advocacy Coalition, found that home health use after an initial hospitalization was associated with a $2.81 billion drop in post-hospital Medicare Part A spending during the three-year period.

What's more, Medicare Part A spending could have been reduced further by $2.07 billion if the beneficiaries who received other post-acute services after the initial hospital visit had used home health instead, said Avalere analysts.

"Our study shows that in this population, provision of home health care is cost effective and benefits patients by improving the continuity of their care," said Emil Parker, director of Avalere Health, in a statement.

In the study, post-acute care services included skilled nursing facilities, inpatient rehabilitation facilities, hospices, and long-term acute care hospitals, Avalere's director of post-acute and long-term care practices, told McKnight's Long Term Care News.

The findings could boost support for the home care model as the industry looks for ways to improve the coordination of care for chronically ill patients while controlling costs.

For more:
- here's the Avalere press release
- check out the study (.pdf)
- read the McKinght's article