Care Hospice grew from a single patient in Charlottesville, Virginia after a personal experience as caregivers. We understand the families we serve, because we were a family that needed and utilized hospice care. We think like hospice operators, because we have been for almost 20 years. However, as many small-to-medium-sized hospice agencies know well, it is increasingly difficult to operate a successful and sustainable hospice in today’s environment.
- The competition continues to grow. There was an all-time high number of US hospice providers in 2014, 6,100, the government’s latest published count, which has been steadily increasing the past 12 years.
- New regulatory requirements seem to be introduced every year, if not more frequently. Keeping up with the continual changes like what we’ve seen in the past few years (e.g., ICD-10, CAHPS, HIS requirements, modified reimbursement rates, and revised prognosis documentation) are the new normal, with more changes anticipated in the years to come.
To effectively manage these changes, we’ve created an approach that allows local operations to continue to focus on their core mission: providing patients and their families with unparalleled care. Care Hospice provides guidance and support for regulatory compliance, accounting, human resources, information technology, and reimbursement. We also invest heavily in marketing and sales efforts to compete with the growing number of competitors by developing proprietary service offerings and collateral to help position our agencies with families and referral partners.
Daily reimbursement rates for hospice services are fixed by CMS. Unlike non-profits, who raise funds from the public to help support their operations, our belief is that the hospice benefit is a fully-funded government benefit and we should be able to provide exceptional service for the dollars provided. We are able to benefit from our combined scale in working with third party vendors. At Care Hospice, we have worked diligently to identify the best quality vendors for services such as medications, durable medical equipment, medical supplies, and our electronic medical record system. Throughout 2014 and 2015, we conducted competitive bids for all of these services and selected vendors that could provide the best possible service at the best possible rate. The result is that our smallest local agency can receive the same level of service as considerably larger agencies at an attractive price. With each new addition to the Care Hospice family, we review the existing supplier relationships and determine if there would be benefits to adopting the providers selected by the group. We don’t make changes in every case, but often our relationships are much stronger than what is possible as a standalone enterprise.
Together, the Care Hospice family benefits from scale and coordination. However, individually, each agency retains its local brand name which has been built over the years. We leverage our combined strength, but allow, and expect, the agencies to operate locally within the communities they serve.