LHC Group Inc. (Nasdaq: LHCG) and SCP Health announced a new strategic partnership on Wednesday to provide higher acuity care in the home.
By joining forces, LHC Group and SCP Health – two very familiar companies with deep roots in Louisiana – hope to create the framework for a range of plug-and-play home care solutions that can be quickly scaled up. across the United States. The idea, LHC Group President and CEO Keith Myers told Home Health Care News you need to have the ‘boots on the ground’ that can support any kind of home care, including including hospital-at-home and SNF-at-home models.
“I don’t like to use home hospital etiquette,” Myers said. “We call it ‘advanced home care’ because some hospitals really want an SNF at home program. Hospitals need more than a single solution.
Based near the LHC Group in Lafayette, Louisiana, SCP Health is a national provider of unscheduled acute care services. The multi-faceted company serves more than 400 facilities in its 30 states, treating more than 12,000 emergency medicine patients every day.
Examples of its clinical offerings include emergency and hospital medicine, as well as intensive care, outpatient services and more.
For its part, LHC Group and its approximately 30,000 employees provide home health, palliative and personal care services in nearly three dozen states. Along with its home care services, the company operates a large Healthcare Innovations (HCI) segment consisting of the ACO management business Imperium Health and the healthcare analytics platform based on the CareJourney value, among other entities.
“We are delighted to partner with our colleagues in the LHC Group to launch innovative and advanced home health services,” said Rich D’Amaro, CEO of SCP Health, in a statement. “Together, we will improve efficiency, manage patient conditions and achieve the best possible health outcomes for patients in the most cost-effective setting – their homes.”
The new LHC Group-SCP Health partnership comes less than a week after home health giant Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) announced plans to acquire Contessa Health for $ 250 million. From a global perspective, both measures reflect how home care providers are strengthening their clinical capacities to adapt to the global change in the US healthcare system in the home setting.
The trend started before 2020, but it accelerated as the COVID-19 emergency worsened.
“The future of home health care takes higher acuity patients in addition to traditional patients,” Myers said. “I think you’ll see the smaller home care providers continue to take the low-severity patients and live in that space, but the bigger, more sophisticated providers are going to go upstream and take care of the patients who were previously in a hospital. patient environment.
“This is our starting point”
SCP Health is the third largest provider of outsourced emergency medicine and hospital medicine services. Its team includes approximately 7,500 emergency department physicians and hospitalists, as well as 1,300 non-clinical staff.
Similar to the LHC group, the company has historically prioritized hospital partnerships, giving the couple a natural head start in the emerging home hospital and SNF home spaces.
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Today, the two have 765 combined hospital partnerships, with at least 70 shared relationships already in place. Overall, SCP Health deploys emergency department physicians and hospitalists to at least 179 hospitals where LHC Group is either a joint venture partner or a home care agency in the market.
“This partnership will initially focus on those markets and build a model out of that,” Myers said. “I’m sure we will develop these kinds of relationships with other groups of physicians in the future, but this is our starting point.
Since the LHC Group-SCP Health partnership is designed to provide hospital partners with a flexible and personalized solution for higher acuity home care, there is no one way to describe how it will work. Overall, however, it will leverage emergency department physicians and DBS hospitals with LHC group home clinicians, sprinkling on the company’s existing telemedicine and analytical capabilities when needed.
In many cases, when health systems wish to offer home hospital or home NFC services, they simply lack the manpower or tools to do it themselves. The recently announced partnership is supposed to be that “missing link”.
“Often these patients who enter the program will present to the emergency room, but instead of being admitted for observation or hospital stay, we will have the option of sending the patient home,” Myers explained. “One of our nurses will go to the emergency room, meet the patient, go home with the patient, and put in place any necessary durable medical equipment (EMR) as required. We will put the patient in telemonitoring, the doctor of the emergency department being able to visualize this telemonitoring and remain in contact with the nurse who is with the patient. If there is something that is needed for the patient in the middle of the night, our nurses can take orders from these doctors via telemedicine.
Prior to partnering with SCP Health, the LHC Group considered other options, such as directly acquiring an acute home care provider.
In the end, the home health center decided that a flexible approach was best because “no two hospitals are the same,” according to Myers. Additionally, the LHC group did not want to find themselves in a potential situation where a home hospital program would dictate the operational conditions, as some models require a certain number of patients to cover their overhead costs.
“We don’t want the tail wagging the dog with the hospital,” Myers said. “We didn’t want to find ourselves in a position where you basically had to push the hospital partner to give you patients to cover your overhead costs, instead of just being there for whatever the hospital needed. “
The strategic partnership with SCP Health capitalizes on current trends at the macro level, but it also strengthens the LHC Group’s position for two impending policy changes, according to the company.
The first is the possible nationwide extension of the Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Model (HHVBP), which the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) advocated in their recent proposed payment rule for 2022.
The second is the potential implementation of “Choose Home”, an innovative program that would allow CMS to effectively pay for SNF-level care at home. Home health advocates have been pitching the Choose Home concept to members of Congress for months, with National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) President Bill Dombi even planning the formal introduction of a health care plan. law this year.
To be successful in both HHVBP and Choose Home, home care providers will need to invest in quality, Myers noted.
Familiar faces (and models)
The LHC Group and SCP Health have a long history.
Ginger Myers, Keith’s wife, was the co-founder of the LHC group and its very first home nurse. She helped launch the business in 1994 while working at Opelousas General Hospital, located approximately 20 miles north of Lafayette.
Meanwhile, SCP Health – formerly known as the Schumacher Group – was also founded in 1994 by Dr. William “Kip” Schumacher. After 20 years of independent activity, Schumacher merged his company with Hospital Physician Partners in 2015, the combined entity merging with ECI Healthcare Partners a year later.
Before all this, however, Schumacher also worked at the Opelousas General Hospital.
“He went from being a hospital employee to an independent contractor and then opened a small office on the hospital campus called the Schumacher Group,” Myers said. “In that same month of September 1994, Ginger launched the first home care agency. They both literally started at the same time in this rural parish.
While the LHC Group and SCP Health are familiar faces, the model they are building is also somewhat reminiscent of a previous initiative.
The LHC Group partnered with Ochsner Health System to develop and implement a personalized orthopedic care program in 2014, with the goal of reducing the number of SNF admissions as a percentage of total joint replacements in the first two years. .
Year 1 resulted in a decrease in SNF admissions from 28% to 18%, according to data from the LHC Group. Year 2 saw a similar drop, with substantial savings for Ochsner based on national averages.
The aim of this Ochsner program was to transfer higher acuity care to the home. The new partnership with SCP – and similar agreements to come – will add to that foundation, Myers said.