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Stonerise Care Blog

5 Reasons Why Every Doctor Should Prescribe Home Health

Julie DeTemple, MD, FAAFP, Stonerise Home Health Medical Director

Dr. DeTemple Headshot

My name is Dr. Julie DeTemple, and I have been a family medicine physician in the South Charleston, West Virginia community for the past 20 years. I have recently been fortunate to join the Stonerise Home Health team as their medical director. As a busy family physician in the midst of a pandemic, I did not take this invitation lightly, but was honored to do so. For the past five years in the changing climate of value-based care, I have come not only to appreciate the role of a quality home health agency to take care of my patients, but also to depend upon it.

So much of healthcare is moving home where patients are most comfortable. Through my years of clinical experience, I have learned five very important reasons why every doctor — no matter the specialty — should prescribe home health.

1. It keeps patients out of the hospital.

One of the most important roles of a quality home health agency is helping to keep patients out of the hospital. Even in non-COVID times, a decline in a patient’s condition and the need for hospital admission can be devastating to the patient and his family. Now, even more so, the push to keep patients out of the emergency department and prevent admissions has even more significance.

As physicians, we must keep this at the forefront of our minds: patients are fearful of contracting nosocomial infections, which can now include COVID-19. The isolation associated with hospital or alternate care center admission can further affect the physical and mental health of our patients due to visitation restrictions in place.

2. It supports the patient where a doctor can’t — at home.

Physicians often worry about what goes on in their patients’ homes, but rarely have time to follow-up. With the push toward performing Annual Wellness Visits, we are inquiring more about what goes on at home. We’re trying to establish patient-specific care plans, but rarely can visit patients in their home environments.

Quality home health providers can be our eyes and ears to fill in the gaps between office appointments. They are instrumental in helping physicians understand how the home environment affects the patient’s care plan and are vital in helping physicians optimize outpatient care.

3. It’s affordable for patients.

When prescribed by a physician, home health is covered 100% by Medicare, and most other forms of insurance cover it as well. Sometimes I think physicians don’t want to burden patients with more cost, thus shy away from home health referrals. In reality, according to medicare.gov, home health is one of the least expensive forms of healthcare!

The eyes and ears of a skilled home health nurse or therapist can lead to a timely outpatient intervention and are less expensive than an emergency department or inpatient hospital admission.

4. It increases the patient’s trust in and engagement with healthcare.

Navigating the healthcare system can be overwhelming, for anyone who has experienced a drastic change in health status. When a healthcare transition from provider to provider or from hospital to home fails, patients might lose trust in their physicians because we are the face of healthcare.

Home health not only ensures a successful transition, but also reaches patients where they are most themselves, most comfortable and most vulnerable. It is here, in their home environments, where they experience the added layer of support provided by home health. That support is vital not only to restoring their health, but also their faith in healthcare.

5. It is a vital part of a high-quality physician’s team.

In the ever-evolving, quality-based care model, physicians are constantly judged on a series of metrics which drive our performance ratings. Three of the most important metrics upon which we are graded are: numbers of inpatient hospital stays, emergency department visits and 30-day readmissions our patients experience.

A quality home health agency, such as Stonerise Home Health, has dedicated and experienced team members at every level. Their patient education programs and active surveillance help prevent these events. This expertise not only benefits the patients, but in turn, also reflects the quality of our care as their primary and specialty care physicians. 

Affordably reducing admissions for the benefit of both patients and ourselves, extending our care plan reach to the patients’ home environments, all the while easing transitions and improving patients’ trust in the healthcare system and their health outcomes — those are all, to me, reasons why you can’t afford to not prescribe home health!

To find out more information or refer a patient to one of the 10 Stonerise Home Health agencies serving 58 counties across southeast Ohio and West Virginia, please call (304) 348-2680 or email intake@stonerise.com.