Home Health Agencies

Home health agencies provide a range of health care services to ill or disabled people in their own homes, allowing them to live independently. The number of home health agencies across the country has risen dramatically over the past several years in response to the increased elderly population, improved therapies for chronic disease sufferers, and the rise of long term care insurance companies. Accordingly, there are many positions open in the medical practice management field at these agencies.

Home health agencies provide a wide spectrum of services. Physical therapy specialists help those with mobility issues. Occupational therapists help people with permanent impairments learn new techniques for accomplishing daily tasks. Respiratory therapists administer breathing treatments to patients with chronic lung disease. Nutritionists educate patients on healthy eating habits, particularly those patients who need specialized diets due to illness. Nurses are also employed to provide general care and check-ups to patients with disabilities. Perhaps the biggest challenge to the home health agency manager is scheduling all these services. Many illnesses require treatments or therapies at specific intervals to provide proper care. The home health agency manager must ensure that each patient receives the correct services at the appropriate times for maximum health benefit.

Beyond basic medical services, many home health agencies offer assistance in using and maintaining supplies and equipment. For example, a home health agency may employ a professional medical equipment assessor to make routine checks on patient infusion pumps or CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines to check for proper functioning and perform regular maintenance. The home health agency may also set up regular delivery of medical supplies such as oxygen tanks or catheters so a patient does not run out. Many supplies and equipment checks can be scheduled at known intervals, though some must be monitored to determine when replacements are needed. Coordinating all these services is the job of the home health agency manager and must be done precisely to maintain the well-being of the patients.

A unique challenge to home health agency managers is the lack of direct contact with both patients and care providers. In traditional office and clinic settings, the manager works in the office among office and medical personnel. With home health care, the providers are out moving from one patient home to the next. The manager must put procedures in place to maintain a thorough awareness of the quality of care being delivered. This can be accomplished through written reports (either paper or electronic) from the provider and from patient surveys. Contact methods must be created so the manager can quickly assist when problems arise and so that both employees and patients feel connected to the organization and represent it with integrity.

There are a large number of home health agencies in the country today and the demand continues to rise. Those interested in medical practice management should research and consider taking on the interesting challenge of managing a home health agency.

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