Darline Singh on Vertical Integration in the Hospice Industry

Jim Cunning
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Ever since the 1990s, hospice organizations have been pushed to integrate with hospital systems for financial survival while providing the highest standard of care. The secret to successful vertical integration is consistency in values in care, says California healthcare entrepreneur and hospice CEO Darline Singh.

Vertical Integration in Hospice Care Needs to Be "Holographic," Darline Singh Advises

Continuity of care is critical to patient comfort, Singh says.

In the United States, hospice organizations traditionally have been, and continue to be, carve outs from hospitals or providers of niche care to underserved communities. Patients come into hospice care after weeks, months, or years of treatment, usually at large institutions, and carry clear expectations of rules and regulations and schedules and amenities.

Abrupt transition into full time care with different rules and new personalities can be upsetting to the patient. Vertical integration gives patients some idea of what to expect. The hospice becomes a reflection of the care organization as a whole, Singh says. Integration can and should be "holographic."

But Vertically Integrated Hospice Care Risks Constant Budget Cuts

The downside of vertically integrated hospice care is that, in many cases, the hospice gets an ever-shrinking share of institutional resources. The hospice becomes the junior partner of the hospital that takes it over. The simple fact is, most physicians do not understand hospice care.

Darline Singh says that the secret to the success of hospice organizations is to become partners, not subsidiaries. Maintaining independence allows for greater focus on detail. Exacting criteria for patient care can be followed. Institutional expertise in dealing with insurance and Medicare can grow. The hospice can recognize high-performing employees and nurture them for practice at an even higher standard of care.

Specialization ensures that the hospice not only tends to the physical needs of patients, but to the emotional and spiritual needs, as well.

Darline Singh is CEO at Zola Home Health Care. Starting her business in California, she acquired seven more businesses during her first five days of operation. She expanded to three states beyond Califonia, and is looking to expand to four more.

Singh advocates an active approach for cooperating with the hospitals that refer patients to Zola Home Health Care, making sure that they know what professional hospice care can do for patients and their loved ones in the twilight of their lives.

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James "Jim" Cunning is a blogger and short story writer living in beautiful Littleton, Colorado. He enjoys writing on anything from local events, news, and issues to positive developments and personalities with a broader national impact.

Littleton, CO

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