In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, your business plan for home care agency likely needs to be tweaked. The pandemic has wrought widespread changes in almost every industry, but the home health industry has experienced even more challenges than most. If you don’t have a home health agency business plan, it’s time to create one. And even if you do, it’s probably time to update and improve your plan in light of the changing environment.
A business plan for a home care agency should always include items such as opportunities for new business and health and safety regulations. But during this pandemic, the information included in those and other areas needs to be revised and updated. If you’re ready to refresh your home health care business plan, get started with these three important areas.
Health and Safety Regulations
Most of the patients who take advantage of home health care are at high risk for infectious diseases such as COVID-19. Home health agencies have a responsibility to protect their patients and staff from infection. It’s a good time to ensure your business plan for home care agency includes procedures for sterilizing and safely transporting any equipment and supplies that employees use. The plan should also include specific regulations for using personal protective equipment, hand-washing, and other safety protocols.
Updated safety regulations should include the opportunity to provide home health care via telemedicine. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in light of COVID-19, new Medicare regulations allow practitioners and patients to communicate via audio or video technologies when necessary to satisfy the face-to-face requirement for reimbursement. When possible, telehealth allows patients and providers to avoid unnecessary exposure to potential pathogens.
Now that COVID-19 is a consideration, home health businesses should ask a lawyer to review their safety protocols and procedural documents. You should also ask your insurance agent about new or additional liability coverage, since COVID-19 transmission may be an emerging area of risk.
Expanded Marketing Plans
The coronavirus pandemic has created large groups of new potential home health users. For instance, as of August 2020, about 40% of the 130,000 U.S. deaths from COVID-19 were residents or employees of nursing homes or long-term care facilities, according to HomeCare. In addition to those dire statistics, millions of families have experienced the difficulty of being shut off from their family members in long-term care facilities, as nursing homes banned visitors in an effort to keep the virus at bay. As a result, more and more families who would have opted for nursing facilities for their aging or ill family members are likely to consider home health care instead.
Additionally, new Medicare regulations have expanded the definition of homebound patients to include anyone who has been ordered by their physician to stay home because of a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. The definition also includes patients who have a preexisting condition that makes them more susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. That means that many people who would have ordinarily traveled to clinics or other medical facilities to receive care must now receive that care in their homes — and home health care agencies are perfectly positioned to meet their needs.
Any revised business plan for home care agency should include plans for reaching out to these new potential groups of patients, building relationships with them, and developing products or programs that meet their needs.
New Communication Procedures
Families who watched their loved ones or others live through coronavirus lockdowns may be concerned about how a home health agency will protect their patients. That’s why home health businesses should make it common practice to provide copies of safety protocols and procedures to patients and families if they ask.
The whole world may have changed, but home health care agencies can continue meeting the needs of their patients. To do this effectively, agencies should update their policies and procedures and make sure they have a home health agency business plan that’s ready to tackle today’s challenges.