Home health care reduces hospital re-admittance rates and saves millions of dollars, according to a new study released by the Home Care and Hospice Association of New Jersey.

Home care nurse and patient. (mandygodbehear, ThinkStock)

Association president and CEO Chrissy Buteas said the study found that patients who took advantage of home health care had at least a 30 percent less chance of being readmitted to the hospital.

"That number further increases in patients with multiple chronic conditions," said Buteas.

The study was conducted by the Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network, contracted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to improve quality of health care for Medicare beneficiaries in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Louisiana, and focused on Medicare Fee-for-Service claims from 2014.

The study comes in the wake of the state's recent recognition last summer of having the highest percentage of hospitals - 97 percent of the state's 64 facilities - penalized by the CMS for failing to curb high re-admittance rates of Medicare Fee-for-Service patients within 30 days of their initial discharge.

The 30-day hospital readmission rate among beneficiaries receiving home health care services was 17.2 percent, as opposed to 24.5 percent among those who received a home health care referral, but refused the service. For patients living with multiple (four or more) chronic illnesses, the disparity was even greater - 23.7 percent of home health care recipients requiring a readmission as opposed to 31.8 percent of those who refused home health care.

"Clearly folks who receive care at the home have great quality nurses and aids at their bedside to assist in having them recover, which ultimately prevents re-hospitalizations, especially for those patients with multiple chronic conditions," Buteas said.

Ann Painter, board chairwoman of the Home Care and Hospice Association of New Jersey, echoed that sentiment.

"It really demonstrates the high value of the very qualified clinicians that provide services out in the home, and people want to receive care in the home. That's where they feel most comfortable," Painter said.

"The study examined almost 200,000 Medicare beneficiaries and what the study found was that almost $7 million was saved for the health care system by keeping these patients at home and not having them readmitted into the hospital," Buteas said.

Painter said the Home Care and Hospice Association is hoping to present the data to lawmakers in New Jersey.

"We'd like to bring this data to our legislators and also other regulatory bodies to really demonstrate the value and make sure that there is access to home health care services," she said. "And as the study showed, there were people who didn't take advantage of the services and we would really like to do some outreach to reach those individuals and families to better educate them on how home health services can reduce the 30-day readmission."

Buteas also added that the demands on the health care system make home care even more useful.

"As our Medicare and our health care system continue to be stressed, home services are a viable option that provide high quality, cost-effective care which ultimately benefits all of our patients and our health care system as a whole," she said.

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