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Hospice agency provides more than mixed agency
It is not uncommon for an agency to offer home health and hospice services because patient populations are similar and regulations favor the mix of two services in one agency. While it is operationally efficient for the agency, patients might not be receiving the highest quality hospice care from a mixed agency as they would from a hospice-only agency, according to a study published in Medical Care.1
Using data from the 2000 National Home and Hospice Care Surveys, a total of 760 Medicare and Medicaid certified hospice agencies' services were studied. Of the agencies studied, 393 were mixed agencies, and 367 were hospice-only agencies. Hospice-only agencies were significantly more likely than mixed agencies to provide many types of services, including volunteers (96.1% vs. 77.4%), social services (96.1% vs. 93.5%), spiritual care (95.1% vs. 77.8%), bereavement care (93.5% vs. 79.8%), counseling (89.5% vs. 70.2%), and physician services (87.2% vs. 52%).
The authors concluded that mixed agencies provide a narrower range of services to hospice patients, including services that are considered cornerstones of hospice care.
1. Rich SE, Gruber-Baldini AL. Differences in services provided by hospices based on home health agency certification status. Med Care 2009; 47:9-14.