Why the HCAOA Created 2 New Committees That Will Change the Industry According to Association Director, Vicki Hoak
“It is absolutely going to be a challenge to get all this done,” says Vicki Hoak, Executive Director of the HCAOA. On this episode of Vision, Miriam and Vicki talk about the launch of 2 new Committees formed by the HCAOA, where the industry is heading over the next 12 months and what you can expect at the HCAOA’s Annual Leadership Conference.
Hey, this is Miriam Allred and you’re listening to Home Care Pulse’s Vision | The Home Care Leaders Podcast. The show where I chat with industry leaders about relevant topics, providers need to hear. My guest today is Vicki Hoak, the Executive Director of the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA).
My name is Vicki Hoak. I am the Executive Director of the Home Care Association of America. I’m almost coming up on my first year anniversary, which will be in November. And yet I have been in the home care arena for over 20 years. Prior to coming to Washington I was the CEO for the Pennsylvania Home Care Association (PHA). So I’ve known this industry. I have come to love this industry. And when this opportunity presented itself, I thought this is the sector of home based care that I have always believed as of course the youngest, right. It’s evolving every day. And it’s absolutely the sector that I believe enables people to remain at home, living as independent as possible. So I’m excited to be here. Our association is evolving, especially during the pandemic. So yes exciting times.
Yes. Well, thanks for joining us on the show today, Vicki. We’re really excited to have you before we dive into today’s conversation, I want you to talk a little bit more about the Association and the Committees that your association is forming.
Yes. Thank you, Miriam. Well, you know, we have, when I first got here, we, you know, we’ve been chugging along 10 years and then our, the pandemic hit and several things have happened because of the pandemic. And I always say, you know, good things can come out of bad. And I believe the pandemic has pushed the home care industry over to more of the medical side, just because I like to say that home care is the prescription for COVID. It is, you know, people are to stay at home. We are to monitor conditions, keep people safe to prevent the spread of COVID not only that as you know, Miriam, our industry as the industry is caring for the population that is most vulnerable to COVID-19. So when this hit, it was incumbent upon our industry and all of the providers in this industry to really become familiar with the Corona virus, how, what they had to do as far as keeping their clients and their caregivers safe.
And so one of the things we immediately instituted was we developed a medical advisory council, and I believe some eyebrows raised a little bit because they thought, well, wait a minute, where the personal care of home care we are. I don’t like just ever say nonmedical. Some people refer that to us. I never say that. I think we’re personal care. And they were, they said, well, why do we need to have a medical advisory council? I think when the Coronavirus outbreak came and we needed it to understand how to care and protect our clients. And so the medical advisory council where we put together very quickly, we have a dr. RNs on that committee, clinical people who work for home care agencies and they develop protocols a protocol for what to do during COVID-19. And then another protocol for if you have an exposed or a positive click caregiver or client, here’s what you should be doing then.
So I think that continues today. And now the group is working on guidelines and procedures for testing for COVID has become very controversial as I know, you know, Miriam. And so this council is working on developing guidelines that we can share with our patients again, to make certain that they are doing the right thing, that they have them up to the minute information. Another thing I think that has come out of the pandemic, and this is something that I’ve always believed in is the need for data. And that’s why it’s just great to be here with home care pulse, because I’ve always been an admirer of home care pulse. And I do believe that if we are to take advantage of this new visibility that we’ve achieved, she lived through COVID that we have got to become more data oriented. And if we are to move this industry, if we’re going to continue to elevate the importance of this industry, the only way we can do that is if we have good solid data to prove our value.
And so we have instituted a data and research committee, which is very exciting. That’s an, of course, it’s on that committee along with a lot of our other technology partners. Clearcare, AlayaCare, lots of others, as well as providers who have met and Home Care Pulse, of course. So we’re trying to identify common benchmarking that everyone could agree on that all home care agencies would buy in. It is absolutely going to be challenge to get all this done and to, to get where we need to be. But I really think we’ve got the right people on that committee. We are looking at other healthcare providers and what they are using as their indicators for good positive patient outcomes. Why reinvent the wheel? And so we’ll be looking at home health, how are home health agencies evaluated? How are hospices evaluated? How does the hospital get evaluated?
Because those are the same, probably very similar that we should be evaluated on such as hospitalizations staff turnover, which we’ve got some great, you know, data from home care, pulse on client satisfaction. Another thing that I know Home Care Pulse does, but all these things, once we can agree to common data collection elements and have a buy in from the industry, that’s some we can start really saying here’s the evidence that shows for instance, four hours of personal care every other day, or perhaps every day really does impact hospitalizations, emergency room, admit, you know, all of those things. And that’s, that’s the long term goal. That’s the long term goal.
Yeah. Well, as much as I want to dive right into the data and research committee, I want to take a step back to the medical advisory council. You brought up some really hot topics, you know, COVID testing. I was just, you know, meeting with the executive director of the association in Maryland and, you know, she had all of these questions and I want to talk a little bit about some of those topics, you know, you’re hearing from these providers, all of these issues, what are some ways that the council you know, as advising or what are they doing to get this information out there?
Well, you know, we’re still working on it because the new, you know, we, we look at CDC for guidance. We look at the, you know, the research schools and, you know, there’s a lot of differing opinions. And also you’re seeing even universities that have called, you know, all their students are back in, they’re all doing testing differently. Is it twice a week? Is it every day? But I think the bottom line for our industry Miriam is the fact that one of the first things that clients are now asking our agencies is number one, tell me what you’re doing to protect your caregivers because they’re coming into my mother’s home. Right. I want to make sure that they’re free of COVID that had haven’t been exposed. And so now our clients are asking, what are your testing protocols? Is it that you are just doing testing every week?
And we’re really trying to get some good guidance out there, which we’re hoping to do with a webinar that we’re scheduling at the end of this month, we have a researcher from Johns Hopkins university who has become a great friend of the home care association of America. Who’s going to come on and talk about the testing. And then what we’re hoping is that by the end of this month, we’ve got some good, solid testing protocols that we can share with our members. That webinar is exclusively for our members. It’s on September 20 22nd. And I’m really looking forward to that. And then the other thing we will be talking about during session is a clinical trial that the home care association has been asked to partner with. And that is using antibodies. Antibodies to someone has been exposed. They go to one of 20 locations throughout the country. They get transfused with the antibodies that will get that, you know, this is a clinical trial because we’re S we’re seeing that if you do that, you are protected from any future exposures. So I’m really helping, hoping that by the end of the month, we’ll have those testing guidelines that we can share with our members.
Fascinating. It is Johns Hopkins. They received a department of defense grant to do these clinical trials using, you know, blood from people who have been, you know, exposed and have been diagnosed with COVID. And then what they’re finding that there is a real promise that when you transfuse someone that has, you know, just had, you know, is showing exposure, but no real symptoms, if you do that, they are protected from any future exposure. So it’s neat in that Johns Hopkins called us because they’re interested in using this for their community providers. So home care of course, is a community health care provider. They will open it up to all of our caregivers, as well as to any clients. Of course, there’s some time involved to get the transfusion and of course follow up, but we’re hoping that at the end of this month, we can announce more about that trial and about our partnership. But the webinar that they’re doing for us is really about testing. And then after the testing, they’re going to talk a little bit more about this clinical trial.
Interesting. Yeah, it was, that’s what I was going to ask if it was on both clients and caregivers and it sounds like it is absolutely very interesting. Wow. Yeah. People are going to have to tune into that because we get that question all the time. You know, people are wondering the correct protocols for testing, but that sounds awesome. So kind of, yeah, jumping back over to the data and research committee, you mentioned, you know, these KPIs, how we’ve looked, how you’ve analyzed these other kind of sister industries and what they’re doing. You mentioned a couple of KPIs. Can you tell us a little bit more about, you know, maybe the top four or five or whatever that looks like that you think home care really needs to hone in on?
Well, I, we know, think I, you know, I always like to step back and think who are our partners. And of course now that Medicare advantage plans are permitted to pay and cover supplemental services. And one of those supplemental services being personal care in the home I have been dealing with this whole issue since they announced this, I guess it’s been two years ago, Miriam, but the, you know, I chuckle, when you think about a health insurance company, you don’t think about people that know a lot about nonmedical things, right? They pay, they know all about doctor visits and tests and things like that. But when it comes to other types of services that they are now permitted to, you know, meals on wheels, that supplemental services can be very broad. They don’t know a lot about it. And when I first talked, I can’t remember this probably was right after this was announced.
The insurance company said Vicki, I have no clue what home care does. Number one, because I know what home health does. Right. I know what, but I don’t understand personal care. And then the next question is, well then how do I know what a, who, what agencies are good? You know, who, how do I know who to put on my provider network? What is the cost? And so as a result of that in the room, I think we’ve seen a very slow uptake on, on paying for personal care under Medicare advantage. But I truly think that if, if providers go in and speak with that insurance company and have good solid data on here, I had, let’s just take this. As a, as an example, I had 100 clients, these clients have this chronic condition because let’s face it most of the time. Now I want to say there are exceptions, but most of the time, if we’re in there, there is a chronic condition, right?
The person might need help with bathing, grooming all the activities of daily living. And if I can say that this person who perhaps has the chronic condition of diabetes or something like that, and we’ve had an aid in there that aid watches that they take their insulin insulin when they’re supposed to they’re eating nutritious meals. And I can say that patient has had no episodes. Hasn’t gotten into the emergency room. Hasn’t been because we are monitoring them. Those are the kinds of things that I think are those indicators that will mean a lot to an insurance company, because we all know that they like that their whole goal is to manage the care and to be as cost effective as possible. And so I think the hospitalization, I think, I really think they’ll look at a caregiver turnover because I know home care, pulse sites.
It, I know our providers say, if you have low turnover, you’re going to get a higher quality of care. So I believe they’ll look at agencies turnover. I think that has to be some kind of a benchmark that we look at has to be medication adherence, which is another thing that I think our agencies do such a great job, and they become so valuable to that family because many times people will end up in a nursing home because they forget to take their pills. They’re not taking the right dosage. Family is 300 miles away and they cannot monitor you put a home care aid in there for a few hours a day and get them on track and remind them about their medications that can also reduce a lot of complications.
Yeah, I it’s, it’s amazing. I think each and every point that you’ve mentioned is so crucial in the full picture. You know, I think agencies are doing a really good job of tracking a few of these or most of these, but like, you’ve just kind of painted this picture of everything that an agency needs to track to have overall success. That being said, you know, with this council on this committee, I’d imagine, you know, these aren’t going away, you know? Yeah. We’re just in, you know, a pandemics, but it’s longterm, you know, this is just one thing of many to potentially come in years to come. So we’ve gotta be prepared and keep these councils and committees, you know, organizing and working through these issues. So tell me a little bit about where, where the industry’s headed. You know, we want to be positive and we know we’re, you know, like you had said before, we’re adapting, but are we progressing? Tell me a little bit about where you think the industry is really headed.
I think the industry is headed for a really bright future, but it’s really important that we take advantage of this moment, misses the moment when you look at what we’ve just been through as a country, and everyone knows where the high incidents of COVID-19. And I think we will never be able to go back to where we were in February, March. And I think what has happened through the COVID pandemic is that I think the whole public sentiment about nursing home care is, is going to start changing. I think it’s going to make us all, including our policymakers to rethink how we take care of our older citizens, that perhaps, maybe it’s not a good idea to have a large number under one roof that perhaps you’re going to start seeing smaller version. And I think that, I think that nursing homes are going to have to rethink their models.
I think they already were to some degree, but I think this is going to expedite it a bit. And I think that public sentiment is going to start turning toward, Hmm. You know, this is, this is a 20 year vet in this, and this is music to my ears Miriam. And when I say, finally, I’ve been saying this for 20 years is where we all need to be. And so even before the pandemic, right, we were all talking about healthcare is coming home. And I think now this will really expedite that sentiment. And I think there’s going to be a huge, and I think our members are already seeing this, you know, when the pandemic hit, we did a survey and we were seeing pretty significant drops in revenue because right clients saying, I’m afraid. I don’t want anyone coming into my home. Families were saying the same thing.
And they were at home working remote. So they said, I can take care of mum for now. Well, now I’m starting to see this uptick again and very high right now because I think people are reconsidering what the next step is for their elderly parents or, or an elderly loved one. So I think you’re going to see more emphasis on this type of care. And what does that mean? That means we are going to have to also look at a federal standard of care. And that was difficult when we would talk about being an essential worker in, you know, with members of Congress. And they would say, well, what are your rules? And I would have to say well, it depends on the state, right? Every state licenses home care differently. And that is, you know, I don’t, I don’t think we’re going to able to move on without dealing with some kind of a national standard of care.
I do. And I think Medicare advantage plans, knowing that Medicare is nationally, I think they’re going to do, I just think that’s inevitable. Now our association has always, always, always supported licensure. We that’s there’s no, there’s no negotiating here. We have always believed that we needed to have rules to regulate us because that elevates our profession without that regulation. It’s just tough. Right? So I think that’s going to come. I think that people will start understanding that this type of home care is really, really important to keep people at home as they age and it’s cost effective. I always say it’s a win, win it’s win-win for government, excuse me. And it’s a win, win for our clients, right? When, when for government, because it’s a lot cheaper than nursing homes. It’s, and it’s a win for consumers and clients because who doesn’t want to be at home, whether they’re recuperating, whether they’re just growing old, everyone wants to, everyone wants to stay at home. So it’s our job as the industry to take advantage of this at this moment. So how do we do that? Well, I think we do it. Number one with the data that we’re trying to figure out and him, it’s just not, let’s agree on what the, you know, the performance improve, what those are, but it’s also getting by. That’s a huge
Definitely. Well, I appreciate you taking the time, Vicki, it’s always a pleasure to work so closely with your association. Before, before we close out, I’d love to hear a little bit about your upcoming leadership conference. We know that’s coming up here in October. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about what they can expect and how can they could get registered for that virtual conference?
Well, it is a virtual and I think what they can expect is this would be the first time our industry is together since the code, since COVID. And I think it’s important for us all to gather together, even though it’s virtual, you take a big deep breath and to talk about it. We do have a general session about here’s, where we’ve been just to be among our peers, which is so important. And you know, we’ve all had to adapt and you and I both know zoom meetings are not the best, but they have seen us through. So this time we’re together. So you, we start off October six, it runs until the eighth. We have two keynoter keynoters that are just great. Maddy Dychtwald who’s from Age Wave, talking about the Aging of America. And then Brent Gleeson, a former Navy seal who will talk about leadership and then our 15 concurrent sessions.
And this is what’s great. You know, when you went to an in person conference, you had to choose which concurrent you would go to and you would say, Oh gosh, I wish I could go to that one. But it’s the same time as this one. Now through the magic avert of being virtual, you will be able to access all of the concurrent sessions. So they, and they, they totally talk about marketing and Eric math course, Eric is doing one on data. And I just don’t think you can miss this. If you’re a home care provider and it doesn’t go all day, we’ve been very cognizant of not making this an eight to five conference. We have to sit in front of a computer. So we’ve dispersed some entertainment in there. And I think it’s going to be a great conference. You just don’t want to miss it.
Well, yes, we look forward to being there and attending, and can’t wait to hear, you know, all these general sessions. I think they’re going to be fantastic. So Vicki, thank you so much for taking the time. We’ve just spoken for a few minutes, but we’ve talked about some really important concepts. And I think this information is invaluable to our providers and we’re excited to continue the relationship with the HCAOA and continue to, you know, see where the industry heads, but we’re so grateful for our relationship with your association and the leadership that you all provide.
Thanks for listening to this episode of Vision | The Home Care Leaders Podcast. If you liked this episode, I’ve got all the related resources and the full transcript on our website, just visit homecarepulse.com/podcast. If you’re like me and want to learn from industry thought leaders or stay up to date on industry topics and trends, visit our website and listen to more episodes of Vision or check out our blog and free resource library. We’ll see you next time.