HLTH2023 drew 10,000+ attendees from around the country with the common goal of gaining actionable insights and learning the latest trends from leaders across the healthcare ecosystem for the betterment of the patients we collectively serve. A clear theme was the transforming home health landscape — especially as we strive to meet the needs of the largest aging population in United States history.
With most Americans expressing a preference for aging at home, it becomes imperative to address the vast gap between intention and infrastructure. AARP’s most recent Home and Community Preferences survey found that more than three-quarters of adults ages 50 and older want to stay in their homes (77%) and communities (79%) as they age. However, one-third (33%) also reported their home would need to be modified to do so safely and independently. Furthermore, there’s a discernible dip in the availability of home health aides.
Given these challenges, health systems and virtual providers are plunging into home health ventures. The primary focus is on lower acuity care via remote patient monitoring. However, mere monitoring will not initiate substantial change. The crux lies in the subsequent actions taken based on this data. It’s all about transforming data-driven insights into strategic actions to enhance patient care and minimize the need for expensive emergency interventions. Thus, the next leap in home healthcare will likely move from remote patient monitoring to remote patient management.
I enjoyed sitting on the panel Home Health’s in Escrow, alongside Humana, ShareCare, and Elara Caring executive leaders. When asked about the bold moves in the home healthcare space we anticipated over the next 12-18 months, the urgency of transformation, given the rapidly aging population, was a common theme.
We talked about bundled services after high-acuity medical episodes, at home or in hospitals, being a necessary next step, and this is something we at Dispatch Health are actually doing. These services, ranging from 30 to 90 days, utilize Bluetooth-enabled devices for real-time interventions. However, data is only meaningful with timely action. Providing in-the-moment interventions, especially during night hours, can significantly tackle feelings of isolation among older individuals and their family caregivers — I shared newly compiled data from a survey of the identified family caregivers of patients cared for in our alternative to in-patient hospitalization at home. Their perception was exceedingly positive; 96% of caregivers preferred our at-home model of care over traditional hospitalization, and 93% said that the in-home model was less stressful.
Co-panelist Dr. Andy Agwunobi from Humana stressed the necessity of financial prudence. Drawing a parallel with the rise of electric cars, he envisaged expansions in home health. With changes in Medicare and the overall home health landscape, he foresees a shift to value-based care. Agwunobi’s vision prioritizes collaboration with payers, adopting various payment methodologies, and reforming clinical models to cater to the needs of both payers and patients.
Dr. Francesca Rinaldo of ShareCare proposed widening our home care perspective beyond just Medicare-eligible individuals. She identified high-risk maternity and postpartum phases as potential beneficiaries of home care. Likewise, patients with intricate behavioral health needs or families with chronically ill children can also benefit immensely.
Scott Powers, leading Elara Caring, emphasized the potential shortage of Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) and the urgency to expand healthcare access to homes. According to him, the future of the home healthcare industry hinges on its ability to adapt. Leveraging advanced analytics, understanding patient needs in real-time, and swiftly responding is imperative. As the healthcare sector stands at an inflection point, embracing technology, particularly generative AI, is not just advisable but essential.
In conclusion, moving beyond merely data collection will be required as we navigate the intricacies of home healthcare. The subsequent action, backed by technology and innovation, will redefine the landscape. With the insights shared by industry leaders, the path forward seems promising, potentially leading to more accessible and improved care for all.