MedCity Influencers, Physicians

Hospital at home: How to partner, not compete

Expanding care services, adding specialty programs and supporting hospital-at-home programs can only improve upon the patient experience and the opportunities of home care, which will serve as a catalyst in the shift toward suitable care in the community.

 In the mid-1800s, William Rathbone, an affluent philanthropist with a keen business acumen, partnered with Florence Nightingale and founded a school dedicated to training nurses who would go on to provide in-home care to the sick and the poor. It was not long after that the idea of receiving care in the home expanded to other parts of the world.

Today, senior care has shifted towards a model of home-based care in many countries, and this shift has seen even further acceleration. About a quarter of adults aged 65 and older experience fair or poor health, and many of these seniors are choosing to receive care in their home over anywhere else, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hospital at Home

As the pandemic continues, support for those who’d rather receive care in their home has increased from all angles. There have been numerous new efforts to expand resources and options for these patients, and some hospitals are starting to reevaluate where they deliver care.

Hospital  programs in the home have proven to be an up-and-coming model to improve both costs and patient outcomes. In fact, a pilot of the model resulted in fewer complications compared to traditional hospital care while simultaneously earning approximately 19 percent savings per admission. Further, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched the Acute Hospital Care at Home program in November 2020, the model may be set to grow.

While some would see hospital-at-home programs as a natural competitor to home health organizations, our industry could actually benefit from these programs’ growth.

Hospital-at-home programs can partner with home care organizations to supply necessary services. Therefore, to best approach partnerships with these programs, organizations must grow their offerings and highlight their skills and services.

Specialty Care Programs

Expanding care services and adding specialty programs is an excellent opportunity to not only grow business but highlight your organization’s capabilities for potential partnerships. However, as organizations seek to specialize and expand services, they should carefully consider the population’s growing health needs.

Consider programs directed toward dementia, Parkinson’s, or diabetes. Parkinson’s disease is the second most common age-related nerve degenerating disease, and 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. Further, there are more than 10 million new cases of dementia each year worldwide.

It’s also worth noting that three common causes of hospitalization among older adults are falls, medication mismanagement and improper disease management. Specialty programs will provide clients with services and caregivers that can quickly and efficiently recognize symptoms and exacerbations, reducing the risk of hospitalization.

Recruitment, Retention and Promotion

While specialized care services in the home guarantees patients have access to caregivers who are knowledgeable and trained in helping with any specific condition they may have, successfully creating and implementing such a program will require a dedicated and qualified staff.

The demand for home health aides and personal care aides is anticipated to grow by 36 percent by 2028, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, recruiting staff who can perform specialty services may present a challenge due to many caregivers lacking the necessary qualifications and the challenges faced amidst the caregiver shortage and recent vaccine mandate.

As the Delta variant continues to spread, Covid-19 cases have surged, particularly in areas that possess a low rate of vaccinated workers. On September 9,  President Biden released a mandate requiring Covid-19 vaccinations for long-term care workers who serve Medicare and Medicaid enrollees. However, there’s a vaccine hesitancy. Many patients that require home care services are not receiving them due to a lack of caregivers that are willing to get vaccinated and return to work.

Despite this, there are some successful avenues to find caregivers. Look to nursing schools where many students gain field experience, as well as military veterans, who have demonstrated a high level of commitment to serving the greater good. Retaining these caregivers can be achieved through offering competitive pay and providing continued education, transferable skills and career guidance.

For promotion, turn to the many stakeholders and partners in care that have the same goal for home care clients, such as hospital-at-home programs. These stakeholders and partners can assist in promotion and supporting organizations looking to create specialty programs.

The Future of Healthcare is in the Home

Just as healthcare experienced a transformation with William Rathbone and Florence Nightingale, today’s aging population brings with it another major change for healthcare.

As the healthcare system works to enable patients to be more involved in their care, patient preference and satisfaction are growing to be key performance measures. Expanding care services, adding specialty programs and supporting hospital-at-home programs can only improve upon the patient experience and the opportunities of home care, which will serve as a catalyst in the shift toward suitable care in the community.

Credit: Vitapix, Getty Images

Tammy Ross is the Senior Vice President of Professional Services at Axxess. She oversees the professional services division at Axxess with a focus on practical operational solutions for the home health, home care, and hospice sectors of the post-acute care industry using technology.

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