Maintaining a home care agency in today business climate has actually become more challenging, and not for the reasons most common for other types of industries. While demand is high, and growing (expected to be the number one job creator in the entire country through at least 2030), there are other factors placing enormous pressure on the small, independent agencies.
There are several reasons for these challenges, not the least of which involves relatively low and stagnant wages making it difficult to attract highly dedicated and experienced care support.
According to BizJournals’ Buffalo Business First, in the blog, Thought Leaders: Home health care industry struggles with recruitment, reimbursement shortfalls, written by Tracey Drury:
““What’s keeping me up at night is the lack of caregivers, not just at the paraprofessional level, but on the nursing side too,” said Joyce Markiewicz, president and CEO for Catholic Health Home and Community-Based Care.
Part of the problem, says Eric Wiedemann, owner/president of Home Instead Senior Care, is that anyone who has ever had interaction with an elder person thinks they can succeed at the job, but that’s certainly not the case.
Most don’t realize the physical demands, nor the challenges that low reimbursement rates offer on the pay side. Plus, they can earn more working in the fast food industry than they’ll make working with an older, sicker population in home care.”
While burnout and turnover are very real problems within the home care industry, it’s not the only one. For many of these agencies, the simple solution would be to pay their caregivers and visiting nurses more money, but as many clients are funded through Medicaid, reimbursement rates have been continually slashed in recent years, making profit margins nearly evaporate for even the most experienced agency.
On top of these challenges are the new requirements put forth by CMS (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) that place extra burdens on these agencies to keep up with paperwork. In order to receive reimbursement for services provided, most services need to be approved by a licensed medical doctor and then the proper forms must be filled out and submitted by the agency, which must then wait to be reimbursed.
If reimbursement is denied (CMS determines the services were not ‘necessary’ or the paperwork was filled out or filed properly), it can be financially devastating for that agency.
While growth within the industry is strong with regard to demand, it isn’t spelling success across the board. It’s making challenges more frustrating for small, independent agencies and many of them are looking to technology to help bridge the gap and be financially lucrative once again.
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