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As Phila. agency chief retires, he leaves behind a stronger home-health industry

Home Health   (829 Views | 0 Replies)

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As Phila. agency chief retires, he leaves behind a stronger home-health industry

When Stephen Holt came to Philadelphia to run the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Philadelphia nearly a quarter-century ago, home health care was a "land of paper and pencil."

His staff had no GPS systems, laptops, or cellphones. Nurses did all their records and billing by hand, and had to call coworkers by landline.

Now, as Holt prepares to retire Dec. 31, his nurses carry laptops, and can easily see what therapists and other practitioners have done with patients. "The nurse admits the patient at the bedside and pushes a button, and the billing starts," said Holt, 66....

... He sees more technological transformation ahead, along with growing respect for the role of home care, as private insurers and the government seek more ways to keep chronically ill patients from going into the hospital or returning there after an admission.

"Just in the last two years," he said, "there has been more of an alignment of interests" between insurers and providers. The agency also has a lot more competition - about 100 home-health companies in the Philadelphia area, compared with 30 when he began here. That reflects a greater need for home care as the population ages and families are less able to care for aging relatives.

Founded in 1886, Philadelphia's VNA is the nation's oldest. Some others, Baiada said, have not survived.

When Holt came here from New York City in 1990, the VNA had an average daily caseload of 300. It's now about 2,300.

Ninety-five percent of the agency's clients live in Philadelphia. Many are elderly, female, poor, and alone. Only about 5 percent of clients have private insurance; the rest are on Medicare and Medicaid.

Under Holt, the agency established a hospice service and developed programs in wound care, mental health, disease management, and chronic care. His was the first to add visiting doctors and nurses to provide in-home primary care...

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/health/healthcare-exchange/20141130_As_Phila__agency_chief_retires__he_leaves_behind_a_stronger_home-health_industry.html#Q0ORHBdDWEwQ0IpS.99

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