Pediatric Home Health Care

Home Health Blog – High Demand Amongst Shortage of Pediatric Care Agencies in U.S

In a season of skyrocketing demand exacerbated by a shortage of trained caregivers, saddled with a difficult to navigate string of confusing state-by-state payment procedures, a pronounced deficit of agencies offering pediatric care in America has left families scrambling for alternatives.

With this shortage comes opportunity, as agencies that would normally provide care to the population of aging and elderly adults are now considering turning their attention to opportunities in pediatric care. The notion comes with a series of challenges many agencies are ill equipped to handle, as the ins and outs of providing a unique type of care for children can be financially and logistically intimidating.

Larger companies with many locations across states such as New Jersey’s Bayada Home Health and Maryland’s Maxim Health Care, have branched deeper into Pediatric home health with opportunity to generate a significant portion of revenue from these services. Smaller agencies, while enticed by the shortage to follow suit, are still on the fence.

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While many strategy rooms in home health management will focus on industry shaping trends such as the population demographic of greater than 10,000 baby boomers approaching 65 on a daily basis, the wave of young children with medically complex conditions is also growing at a significant rate due to a number of national factors. Part of this dynamic is being pushed by an increased number of hospitals discharging patients (some of them children) due to overcrowding and limited resources. This opens the door for homecare providers to move into the care process, as even higher numbers of critically ill patients are finding their way into the home health care picture.

 Generally speaking, children requiring pediatric home health care are often some of the neediest patients who require specialized care and equipment/procedures. This could span any situation from a premature baby who needs help breathing with apparatus, to a child with a chronic condition or permanent disability. Many of these children have a few years of critically important care needs that agencies would need to facilitate over an extended period of time. This means agencies need to provide consistent care, and find qualified nurses who are in it for the long haul.

The shortage of qualified caregivers across all areas of home health care has been a huge barrier to growth and sustainability for pediatric home health providers. This helps to suppress the earnings potential for the demographics involved, which further makes the supply vs demand curves unequal. Funding from the government or states often goes towards hospitals, which subsequently leaves agencies with little extra help in generating resources to train or attract new employees. The national statistics indicate that less than 3% of Medicaid spending for children with complex medical issues has been routed into homecare. This has resulted in hourly pay for pediatric home health trending at more than 10% lower than for in-patient care. While federal procedures have created a somewhat smooth reimbursement routine for long-term services and elderly in-home-care,, conversely, pediatric home health funding is reliant on inconsistent state to state rules, with a handful of  states granting far more favorable reimbursement realities than their neighbors. Indeed there are some states where it is extremely difficult for agencies to manage patients paid by Medicaid.

To counteract these barriers to growth and sustenance, many agencies are trying to advance pediatric home health causes, opening lines of communication with home health partners and federal representatives, highlighting the complex set of needs for pediatric services. Establishing relationships with hospitals is a valuable tool in this agenda, with many representatives stating that there is a major disconnect between hospital officials and homecare agency owners/managers.

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