How integrated approaches to home care can benefit patients

As the home care industry evolves to serve even more pre-acute and post-acute patients, an integrated approach to home care services is needed now more than ever.

Throughout the healthcare industry, the number of patients receiving care in a home-based environment is rapidly growing. In fact, CMS has projected an annual growth in home care expenditures of nearly 7% over the next five years.

As the home care industry evolves to serve even more pre-acute and post-acute patients, a new approach — an integrated approach — to home care services for patients is now needed more than ever.

A growing need for home care
A recent study, published by JAMA, shows an alarming trend. Between 2011 and 2020, the prevalence of homebound adults aged 70 years or older more than doubled, from approximately 5% to 13% of the U.S. population. The study also reported that the prevalence of being homebound in 2020 was greatest among Hispanic/Latino individuals (34.5%), followed by Black non-Hispanic individuals (22.6%) and White non-Hispanic individuals (10.1%).

Fortunately for physicians and medical providers, when utilized appropriately, home care services allow patients to remain and recover in a way that is usually less expensive, more convenient, and more efficient than care that is received in a hospital or skilled facility.

Most importantly, home care is also proven to correlate with better patient outcomes. In an independent study, researchers found that hospital discharges with home health care services were associated with a significantly decreased hazard of readmission and death. Home care services have proven to be especially effective to safely treat the care needs of patients after an inpatient discharge.

Previously, the promises of home care have not been properly realized due to inefficiencies in traditional home care models, leading to less than ideal experiences for vulnerable patient populations and the physicians that care for them.

The home care services that patients often require transcend any single provider type and includes a tapestry of home care services. For example, many patients who require durable medical equipment (DME) also require coordination with home health agencies, personal care services providers, or private-duty nurses.

An integrated approach
This need is why a multivariate, carefully orchestrated, and patient-centered approach to home care services is critical for patients.

Fortunately, progressive home care organizations have begun to find a better way to address the historical issues with traditional home care services – by taking an integrated approach that delivers comprehensive, value-based care and combines administrative and clinical functions for home health, DME, and home infusion. This model streamlines hospital discharges, simplifies care-coordination across all home care services, and reduces unnecessary medical costs. It also aligns incentives between payers and providers to drive meaningful savings to health plan customers through efficient utilization and unit cost management.

The benefits of integrated models
Integrated models help ensure continuity of care and coordinated services so that patients can remain in the most cost effective and desirable place to be – their home.

Specifically, benefits include:

  • Improved care quality
  • Improved patient satisfaction
  • Lowered total cost of care and reduced utilization.
  • Reduced administrative overhead burdens.
  • Flexibility in care
  • Improved patient adherence and compliance

As shown above, home care has tremendous potential to alleviate many of the ills and challenges of the current healthcare system, but it must be well managed. As the number of homebound individuals grows, integrated home care models must become the expectation for physicians and patients, rather than the exception.

To truly meet patients’ medical needs and mobility constraints, physician practices and providers must begin requiring complete and coordinated home care offerings that effectively and compassionately meet the unique needs of homebound patients and their families. Anything less is unacceptable and fails in delivering an optimal care experience.

Paul Pino is the chief development and analytics officer and co-founder of Integrated Home Care Services Inc. His expertise includes national healthcare underwriting, healthcare analytics, M&A, business development and contract operations.