Joint ventures and collaborations between home-based care providers, tech companies and health systems continue to have operational upside.
Some of the biggest names in home-based care have already proven that to be the case with their joint venture strategies over the past several months and years.
Moving forward, however, it could be even more so the case, experts said at the Health Care Council of Chicago conference this week.
“From my perspective, we’re thinking about how we build partnerships or joint ventures and other ways to serve our patient population, largely because we intend to continue to grow in terms of value-based, risk-based contracts,” Denise Keefe, president of home health for Advocate Aurora Health, said at the conference Wednesday.
Advocate Aurora Health is one of the largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the U.S., with 27 hospitals and 7,000 physicians.
Earlier this year, Advocate Aurora acquired MobileHelp, a home-focused provider of remote patient monitoring (RPM) capabilities and personal emergency response systems. The company also acquired the home care franchise Senior Helpers in 2021.
Both moves are examples of how health systems, providers and tech companies have collaborated with the goal of keeping as many aspects of care under one umbrella.
But there’s also a certain responsibility when making these large-scale deals and partnerships, Keefe said.
“When you do that, you become 100% responsible for that patient and their home health journey,” Keefe said. “With our recent announcement in partnership with Atrium — which will take Advocate Aurora from Illinois and Wisconsin into five additional states — we’re looking at ways in how to manage risk and making sure we have the size to do it.”
A few years ago, Sheetal Sobti — who leads the aging independently category for Advocate Aurora Enterprises, a subsidiary of Advocate Aurora Health — took a look at the company’s corporate strategy and recognized that it provided care in a very simple, episodic fashion.
“Yet we know that care is needed in between those moments,” Sobti said. “For us, an ‘ah-ha’ moment was around how we help people live longer. How do we extend our reach into that adjacent health and wellness space where we can be a partner to our consumers, not just when they’re in our clinical environment, but also when they are at home? When they’re living their daily lives.”
Sobti said that thinking about the major milestones in a person’s life helped Advocate Aurora identify partners in the home-based care space.
Partnerships as means for growth
Another panelist, Cheryl Hilton – the chief of chronic care services for Chicago-based home health service provider Alegis Care – said her company’s recent partnerships have been focused on reducing utilization and readmissions at hospitals.
Alegis Care — which operates under the insurer Cigna — has already seen progress with one of its newest programs that partners with area hospitals.
“The [Transition of Care Program] we rolled out recently, we went from 10 days for a post-hospital discharge down to four,” Hilton said. “The key was to really capture that patient as soon as they came home, [and we did so by] ensuring that we’re partnered with the hospitals and medication reconciliation correctly.”
Depending on providers to be the eyes and ears in a home-based setting is a benefit to these kinds of partnerships, Carla Robinson, the CEO of Chicago-based Canary Telehealth, added.
Robinson described a case where a patient had a recent medication adjustment and was experiencing hypertension and had symptoms of dizziness and fatigue.
A Canary nurse was able to contact the family at the home and get the patient in after seeing alarming vitals. At the same time, the nurse was able to coordinate with the home health provider for a medication adjustment at the same time.
“We’ve certainly seen where those collaborations have been very beneficial as kind of an extra arm for the provider,” Robinson said. “We’ve been reaching back out to the providers that we work with often to be those eyes and ears in between those visits with the doctor.”