Q&A with Dr. Tom
My go-to hospice just got acquired by a national chain, what do I do?
The hospice industry is undergoing a consolidation.
Increased regulation and decreasing payments are the forces behind this trend. And you just might find that a previously excellent hospice greatly changes their ways.
In general, the local and for-profit hospices are the most effective providers. Unfortunately, those are exactly the ones being acquired.
And once these acquisitions take place, the businessmen take over. Patient care, though given lip service, generally takes a back seat to cost control.
What you may notice is less responsiveness as staffing, particularly as overtime is cut.
Less coverage of patient benefits may albecome apparent as well, corporate formularies are generally tighter.
Hospice will only cover services associated with admitting diagnoses. Look for those diagnoses to be as limited as possible so coverage expenses can be limited as well.
And if the medical director changes, that's a huge red flag.
All the previous quality checks we've discussed in this space stand:
- Secret shop on a Saturday afternoon and see if they prioritize payment information over patient care.
- Ask about scope of services.
- Check staffing rates.
Do these checks every few months or so.
But also be proactive.
Sit down with a few selected other hospices in your area, they may see an opportunity to increase their business through improving their patient care and level of service. Consider giving them a chance.
Losing your favored hospice is like losing a good friend.
Be sad---but prepare to move on.