"Success," he says, "is dependent upon solid operations and a favorable patient payer mix. The not-for-profit, hospital-based [home health] agencies usually receive all patients regardless of payer, and their success is measured by limiting and reducing return-to-acute and the emergency room while maintaining lower operating costs."
At Lee Memorial, home health is part of a broader commitment to population health in southwest Florida. Kolsun says the health system is investing in:
- Case managers "to handle complex, high-utilization patients and help them reduce their use of expensive health resources.
- Data and analytic systems "to allow us to better manage our populations"
- Awareness and education "in our community in regards to health and wellness, including inviting national speakers on the benefits of proper nutrition"
The health system is using several metrics to gauge the performance of its population health-oriented programs. "Currently, we use our total cost of care for our value-based contracts to gauge how we are performing financially. We also use a number of quality measures that let us track improvements in care that are related to our population health initiatives," Kolsun says.
Investing in population health capabilities appears to be sustainable at Lee Memorial. "Overall, I would say we are about neutral," Kolsun says of the financial impact of the organization's population health programs so far.
Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.