In 2014, the Alliance launched the Future of Home Health Project, aimed at improving the understanding of the ways home health is currently used, and how it can be utilized in the future for older Americans and those with disabilities. Last week, as part of the Project, the Alliance held the first in a series of regional symposia.

Hosted in advance of the Southwest/Gulf Coast Regional Home Care & Hospice Conference and Exhibition in New Orleans, the Alliance’s Future of Home Health Southern Regional Symposium, “Preparing for the Future: Building on the IOM Future of Home Health Care Workshop,” brought together regional and national providers, thought leaders, and stakeholders for a dialogue on home health and its future in the health care landscape.

Participants heard from speakers from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), Kindred Healthcare, Case Western Reserve University, the Brookings Institution, the National Alliance for Caregiving, and Virginia Commonwealth University on how the future of home health care should look and what needs to be done to get there. The symposium panels discussed issues related to workforce, patient and caregiver interaction, measures, innovative payment models, collaboration with physicians, reducing hospitalizations, and more.

The day started out with a recap of the Fall 2014 Institute of Medicine and National Research Council Future of Home Health Care Workshop, featuring Dr. Tracy Lustig of the IOM and Dr. Elizabeth Madigan of Case Western Reserve, who served as a co-chair of the workshop. A quick look at the themes from the Workshop can be found here.

During the next panel on “Perspectives on the Role of Home Health in New Health Care Delivery Models,” Mary Van De Kamp of Kindred Healthcare spoke about shifting the focus from reducing only rehospitalizations to reducing hospitalizations overall. She explained that home health over time will position itself as being more than only a provider of post-acute care. The theme of driving home health care away from just post-acute and toward more patient-centered, community-based care is one that can be found throughout the Project, and in new and innovative models of care delivery. Both Dr. Peter Boling of Virginia Commonwealth University and Dr. Barbara Gage of the Brookings Institution and the Post-Acute Care Center for Reform (PACCR) discussed a few of the aforementioned innovative models in their presentations as well.

In the final panel, Kate Jones of Amedisys and Gail Hunt of the National Alliance for Caregiving joined Dr. Gage to discuss ways to prepare for the future of home health care. Mrs. Jones talked about the needs of the workforce and ways to achieve better workforce planning, while Ms. Hunt brought the discussion back to the patient and caregiver, and the critical need to communicate effectively with both in order to avoid readmissions and achieve the Triple Aim.

Finally, Dr. Robert Rosati of the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group led a recap of the day’s discussion and encouraged participants to share their reactions to the issues raised in each session. We collaboratively unpacked the key themes to focus on for the future of home health care.

The Alliance is thankful to all of our panelists, moderators, and participants for bringing such important topics to the table and allowing us to delve further into a critical discussion as the population ages and health care in the U.S. continues to evolve.

We’re looking forward to continuing to take the discourse outside of just Washington, DC, and we hope you’ll be able to join us at an upcoming event. Please keep checking back for more information on upcoming regional symposia in the Northeast, Midwest, and West, and follow along on Twitter using the #FutureofHH.

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