Did you know that cats have 32 muscles in each ear? Surely you will agree with me that this information is fascinating. But as interesting as that tidbit of information is, can you really say that it is useful outside of a small circle of academics?
That’s the way a lot of the information we collect in home health is – useless out of context. We obsess about visits per episode. We want to know what our competitors are doing or what the national average is. We want to know what other people are doing with case mix weights. All of this information is useless unless it is viewed in context.
Take visits per episode, for example. I have clients that admit a lot of post op ortho patients. And I have other clients who have very few therapy patients. I have yet another client who sees a lot of psychiatric patients. To use a standard number of visits per episode for the purposes of comparison is absurd. This is not to say that you don’t need to know how many visits per episode you are providing but this information must be reviewed with your payment and cost information.
Another area we obsess about is productivity. How many visits per day are nurses doing? In other words, are my nurses more or less productive than yours and how can I get them to do more visits? Like visits per episode, there are so many unique variables inside individual agencies that it is ridiculous to take a single number for comparison without putting it into the context of the agency. How are the nurses paid? Are they salary, per hour or per visit? How many miles are logged in each week for the nurses? Is most of the driving done on an interstate or on back roads and in some cases cold, icy mountain roads?
Costs per visit can be calculated so many ways that unless you have a heart to heart with your accountant, you may never know what your true cost per visit is. Furthermore, is it appropriate to use your actual Medicare cost per visit when considering outliers or fee for service private pay home health? A good Medicare accountant is one who can not only help you make these decisions but who can explain in plain English what your numbers mean so that you can make information driven decisions.
I love numbers. But numbers are like power tools. As useful as they are, they can be equally as dangerous in the wrong hands.
But if you’re just in the mood for something interesting, try this. The word, ‘almost’ is the longest word in the English language in which all the letters are in alphabetical order.
If you have any questions about what your numbers mean or if you know any other completely useless but interesting facts, please post below or email them to us.