As baby boomers continue to age, healthcare will notice significant shifts; especially in hospice care. What does the future of hospice look like? How will things change in order to take care of such a large section of the population? How will GenXers (1965 - 1980) and Millennials (1981 - 1996) affect these changes as they become the key decision makers?The Future of Care
The future of healthcare will see a larger number of patients transition from nursing homes and assisted living facilities to palliative care and programs for all-inclusive care for the elderly (PACE.) A large number of hospice organizations are also developing pre-hospice services including palliative care and chronic care management programs. The reimbursement for palliative care is less expensive and accompanied by visits from physicians or nurse practitioners. This can be a considerably less expensive alternative for patients who aren’t ready for hospice services.
The number of patients admitted into palliative care and hospice care is increasing proportionately. These organizations must do their part in continuing to provide high quality patient care as the competition for services across the country only gets tougher.
Hospice care occurs when it's discovered that a patient is not going to survive an injury or illness; typically, being offered when the patient is expected to live six months or less. Patients must have a diagnosis from their physician or the attending hospice physician of a terminal illness to be eligible for hospice. Without the proper diagnosis, the hospice may not receive reimbursement from Medicare. Reimbursement amounts are typically as follows:
- 90% Medicare
- 5% private insurance
- 5% private pay
Medicare hospice reimbursement for the first 60 days of service and last seven days of service is about $190 per patient per day. Hospice organizations are reimbursed on a per diem basis, meaning all expenses associated for the hospice must be paid through this reimbursement. They receive no other funding that can be used for any kind of direct or indirect patient care. Most hospice organizations are functioning on less than a five percent profit, and as competition stiffens, margins decrease.
The challenges hospice providers face is trying to cover all patient care and non-patient care expenses with the little reimbursement they receive. The reimbursement must cover nursing time, pharmacy, DME, medical supplies and all administrative costs including bereavement and chaplains.
Working with GenXers and Millennials requires a shift in traditional thinking in regards to healthcare. GenXers and Millennials are more savvy generations who prefer interactions that treat them, and their aging family members, more like consumers and less like patients. This means prioritizing patient experience efforts, optimizing for convenience and delivering a recognizable quality of care. Focusing on patients’ unique identities and experiences will evolve hospice and other healthcare markets in exceptional ways.