A New Model for Home Health Agencies: Why Not Wounds?

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by Lydia A Meyers RN, MSN, CWCN

At the start of December, I was looking at graduation from my Master's Degree program and the completion of my final paper. A capstone to the Master's program is much like the dissertation to the doctoral program. My journey has been long and along the way I have increased my base of knowledge. What I have learned on this journey will enhance my practical knowledge of wound care and patient care. I learned that health care must change, and we must look hard at how we are doing business and be willing to challenge the status quo. Health care needs highly knowledgeable leaders to assure patients receive quality care by being good stewards of the money given to promote that care. The provider must be educated to assure the patient's wishes are followed first and always.

Hospitals are progressing toward this, followed by nursing homes and transitional care units. The only place lacking in this leadership and knowledge, and not seeing the benefits that strong stewardship would lend, is home health care. Hospitals are growing and becoming more specialized by looking at the market needs and filling that void. Isn't that the first rule of marketing? Nursing homes are working toward being rehab centers or wound centers. Transitional care units are extremely specialized as step down units from hospitals to home. While home health care could also be excelling and evolving like other care agencies, it lacks the insight needed to have a presence in the evolving specialty care market. There are many home health care agencies in one area and all provide quality care, so the advertisements say.

What if there was a home health agency that provided wound care as the primary care model? What if within that agency there was a committee that looked at newly admitted wounds, wounds not progressing and wounds not healed after two episodes? What if there was an agency that specialized in open heart patients and patients that required heart monitoring with specialized care at home? What if there was a home health agency that specialized in rehabilitation with the aim of discharging the patient faster? Each agency could still offer general home health care, but could be known for that specialization. Home health agencies could then not only increase their patient base, but excel at care and reduce readmissions. This strategy would be employing basic marketing principles and yet, many agencies lack the management team to see the benefits in this thinking. Many want to maintain the status quo and not rock the boat to change.

About the Author
Lydia Meyers RN, MSN, CWCN has been a certified wound care nurse for over 15 years with experience working in home healthcare, extended care facilities, hospice care, acute care, LTAC, and wound clinics. Her nursing philosophy to "heal wounds as quickly as possible" is the guiding force behind her educational pursuits, both as a teacher and a student.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.

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