AccentCare, LHC Group, VITAS Execs: Care Continuum Sprawl Central to Hospice’s Progress

AccentCare, LHC Group, VITAS Execs: Care Continuum Sprawl Central to Hospice’s Progress

Enlargement throughout the care continuum is a key to sustainable development for hospices, in response to executives from a number of the trade’s largest corporations.

The hospice trade has been ripe for development lately, plucking the curiosity of traders from all walks. Hospices have dug deep into the roots of their development methods as competitors crops up available in the market.

Whether or not hospices plant seeds of development via de novos, mergers, acquisitions, or a mixture of those, the flexibility to supply a large spectrum of providers is a key to long-term development potential, in response to leaders of AccentCare, LHC Group Inc. (NASDAQ: LHCG) and Chemed Company’s (NYSE: CHEM) VITAS Healthcare.

Hospice Information not too long ago sat down with executives at every firm through the 2022 ELEVATE Convention in Chicago to debate how they’re honing their M&A and development methods. An evolving cost panorama and rising demand of a swelling getting old inhabitants signify the most important components pushing hospices to broaden providers additional upstream, in response to executives.

LHC Group’s choice to double down on hospice

Lately, LHC Group’s management group has made a “very strategic choice” to double down on hospice offers, in response to Carla Davis, the corporate’s senior vice chairman of hospice operations.

To date, LHC Group’s M&A technique has targeted on co-locating new hospice places in markets by which it already has a house well being care presence.

As LHC Group appears to be like forward, this technique will proceed to realize pace because it appears to be like to sprawl throughout the care continuum, in response to Davis.

“You’ll see us going ahead actually how we are able to construct out a continuum of products that we exist in,” Davis advised Hospice Information through the ELEVATE convention in Chicago. “How can we co-locate with residence well being, home- and community-based providers, and actually be that continuum of care within the residence?”

The give attention to hospice de novo development has doubled the corporate’s census since final 12 months, in response to Davis.

Louisiana-based LHC Group operates 169 hospice places and 543 residence well being places throughout 37 states and the District of Columbia, protecting an estimated 68% of the nation’s 65 and older inhabitants. The corporate accomplished six transactions in 2021, one in every of which was the acquisition of residence well being and hospice places in 28 states from the three way partnership between Brookdale Senior Dwelling (NYSE: BKD) and hospital system HCA Healthcare (NYSE: HCA).

This 12 months introduced the corporate’s pending sale to UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) subsidiary Optum as a part of a roughly $5.5 billion deal, which is predicted to shut by the tip of this 12 months.

The corporate’s acquisitions contributed $36.2 million to its hospice income development on this 12 months’s second quarter. Its hospice section introduced in $102.6 million throughout that interval, a $38.8 million rise from the prior 12 months’s quarter

Although hospice had been part of its service repertoire, it was not traditionally on the forefront of the corporate’s development plans, stated Davis.

“Hospice has been part of the mission of LHC Group for the reason that starting, for the reason that late 90s. However the group grew extra strongly in residence well being, and that actually was the first focus,” stated Davis. “Up till 2020 and 2021, LHC wasn’t as targeted on being as acquisitive in hospice alone.”

AccentCare, LHC Group, VITAS Execs: Care Continuum Sprawl Central to Hospice’s Progress RoboToaster, SmugMug
Carla Davis, Dr. Balu Natarajan and Joel Whereley on the 2022 ELEVATE Convention

AccentCare broadens service spectrum with hospice development

AccentCare has taken an identical method to development as LHC Group, trying to fill gaps of entry to well being care throughout the continuum, in response to Dr. Balu Natarajan, chief medical officer for hospice on the post-acute care firm.

Dallas-headquartered AccentCare is a portfolio firm of the non-public fairness agency Introduction Worldwide. AccentCare operates greater than 260 places in 30 states, offering care to upwards of 210,000 sufferers and households yearly. The corporate’s continuum of providers vary from private, non-medical care to expert nursing, rehabilitation, palliative care, hospice, residence well being, telehealth and care administration.

Just like LHC Group, AccentCare lately started to prioritize development into the realm of end-of-life and critical sickness care.

In December 2020, AccentCare merged with Illinois-based Seasons Hospice & Palliative; it has since consolidated this subsidiary, together with six others, below the corporate’s important model. Previous to merging, Seasons served greater than 36,000 sufferers yearly throughout 19 states, together with those who acquired care in its 28 hospice inpatient facilities.

Collaborating with Seasons has greater than tripled AccentCare’s common each day census for the reason that two merged, in response to Natarajan. Previous to that, AccentCare operated with a “massive residence well being however fairly small hospice” presence, he stated.

“We had been continually in search of who was going to be the house well being [operator] in any given neighborhood, … with whom we may companion to manage [services] past what our suppliers may do,” Natarajan advised Hospice Information through the convention. “Each teams had been in search of a broader spectrum. We’re all actually dedicated to not simply the very finish of life, however these years resulting in the tip of life and what that appears like — whether or not that’s in a nursing care or residence setting, whether or not exterior of and past the acute care hospital setting.”

VITAS Healthcare’s sluggish however regular hospice development

Not like a few of its rivals, VITAS has targeted on de novos for geographic development relatively than acquisitions. In February, the Florida-based firm expanded with a de novo that swelled its presence into three further counties throughout its residence state.

VITAS takes a “deep dive” in its M&A method, slowly working prospects into its fold earlier than creating new ones, in response to Joel Whereley, VITAS government vice chairman and COO.

“VITAS has all the time taken a place that now we have a novel service mannequin, and that we are likely to go deep into a bigger market,” Whereley advised Hospice Information on the convention. “After we would do a de novo, we’d go all-in, full-staffed from Day 1 for X variety of census. It could take us 10 months or 12 months to get there, however that was our dedication to our mission – to have the ability to present that stage of care from Day 1.”

VITAS is the nation’s largest hospice supplier by market share, in response to LexisNexis. The corporate operates 49 hospice applications throughout 14 states and within the District of Columbia, with 28 inpatient hospice items nationwide.

Like many suppliers, referral disruption and labor pressures challenged VITAS development potential this 12 months. VITAS introduced in $298 million in income throughout Q2, a 4.5% decline in comparison with the prior 12 months’s interval. Regardless of these headwinds, VITAS executives remained optimistic concerning the firm’s acquisition pipeline.

Although the corporate general hasn’t accomplished many acquisitions not too long ago, there are some M&A actions which have flown “below the radar” however have been simply as essential to long-term development, in response to Whereley.

Worth-based cost fashions may come into play for the corporate’s future development issues, in response to Whereley. Although VITAS has no agency plans centered round value-based care, the corporate is evaluating how reimbursement shifts could impression future offers, he famous.

“Understanding increasing our geographic footprint, particularly because it aligns with potential influencers in a payer-related world, may should make sense. We proceed to guage that, despite the fact that now we have not been aggressively pursuing acquisitions previously,” Wherely advised Hospice Information. “We acknowledge that as our trade evolves and has a seat on the desk, we all know if we’re going to be enticing in a value-based world, we could should be versatile and modify and companion.”