Looking to Build Market Share, Amedisys Rolls Out SNF-at-Home Pilot Program

Amedisys Inc. (Nasdaq: AMED) hasn’t been shy about the company’s plans to gain an even larger share of business from other post-acute care operators.

With that in mind, the company has been focused on setting up shop in the SNF-at-home space, pairing skilled home health care with non-medical personal care services. Those efforts have now come to fruition.

Amedisys leaders gave insights on how offering a SNF-at-home solution could potentially impact the company’s business on Thursday during the company’s Q1 earnings call.

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“There’s a belief that 20% to 25% of business that goes into SNFs potentially could go into the home, if we’re able to provide … personal care, combined with home health, combined with telemedicine, transportation, diet and all these other things,” Amedisys Chairman and CEO Paul Kusserow said during the call. “This is very important for us because it increases our addressable market tremendously.”

Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Amedisys delivers home health, hospice and personal care services to about 415,000 patients per year. It has 514 care locations in 39 states and Washington, D.C.

Ahead of the call, Amedisys also announced that it has teamed up with Sound Physicians — a physician practice partner to health systems, plans, physician groups and post-acute providers — to officially launch its “Home Health Advanced Program.”

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The SNF-at-home pilot program will launch in May, delivering care to patients who meet certain diagnoses and acuity levels. The program will include home health, telemedicine, personal care and other services focused on activities of daily living (ADLs) and the social determinants of health.

“A key piece of this program will be utilizing personal care services to support activities of daily living and economically providing more routine and consistent patient interventions,” Chris Gerard, president and COO of Amedisys, said on the call. “We will be utilizing our own personal care assets for our initial pilot markets. While these pilots are initially small, they are a great representation of the new and innovative ways we’re trying to use personal care.”

Amedisys has taken a two-pronged strategy to build out its personal care capabilities.

On one hand, the company owns and operates its own locations, with in-house personal care assets in Massachusetts, Florida and Tennessee. On the other, it has also forged significant partnership deals with the likes of BrightStar Care and ClearCare, a WellSky company.

Overall, the ClearCare and BrightStar personal care networks give Amedisys access to another 1,500 or so locations across the U.S.

Plenty of other home-based care providers have signaled their interest in launching SNF-at-home programs, too. Some health care experts have urged caution, however, pointing out that skilled nursing facilities can provide a level of 24/7 care that’s difficult to replicate in a private home.

“I think there’s a limit to what can be done in a home setting, and I worry about caregivers who are not really prepared to bring somebody home,” ATI Advisory CEO Anne Tumlinson recently said at the 2021 Navigator Leadership Summit. “Whatever this model is, it’d better be robust.”

M&A developments

For Amedisys, mergers and acquisitions have been another avenue for expanding geographies and market share.

Earlier this month, Amedisys signed a definitive agreement to acquire licenses that will allow the company to conduct home health care operations in Randolph County, North Carolina. The service area provides the company access to 31,000 Medicare and Medicare Advantage enrollees.

The deal is slated to close on April 30.

Amedisys will remain bullish on the M&A front as the year continues, according to Kusserow.

“We are continuing to look for more significant ways to deploy capital to grow inorganically throughout 2021,” he said. “While these are small deals, they increase our presence in strong markets and are geographically strategic. We are active and successful in the M&A market, and expect to do more and bigger deals as the year progresses.”

During the call, Amedisys also addressed its success when it comes to staffing and turnover. The company saw its total voluntary turnover decrease to 15.9%, down from 19.5% in Q1 of 2020.

The decrease is significant because, like most of the company’s industry peers, Amedisys is still seeing the impact the COVID-19 emergency has had on staffing.

“Making this kind of turnover improvement during the pandemic is really an amazing story,” Gerard said. “We saw reductions in clinical turnover nearly across the board in both home health and hospice, and we saw reductions in care center leadership turnover in both lines of business.”

Home health volume up

Amedisys reported net service revenues of $537.1 million in Q1 2021, a 9.2% increase compared to $491.7 million during the same period a year prior.

The company’s home health segment brought in $328.6 million for the quarter, an 8.2% increase compared to $303.6 million in Q1 2020.

“For the quarter in home health, we grew same store total volume and admissions by an impressive 6% and 5%, respectively,” Gerard said. “Our home health line of business has done a tremendous job growing through the pandemic and continued that strong momentum in the first quarter.”

The hospice segment reported segment revenue of $191.5 million in Q1 2021, a 13% increase from $169.4 million during the same period last year.

Amedisys’ personal care segment reported $17 million in Q1 2021, a roughly 9% decrease from $18.7 million in Q1 2020.

“We still have plans in place and we’re working to drive more volume through the network,” Gerard said.