Recent trends in home health present an exciting opportunity for primary care physicians (PCPs).
In February 2021, an article in Health Affairs reported:
“From the 1940s norm of house calls to the 2020s transition to telehealth, health care delivered at home has been an option—even preferred—for those searching for care from the comfort and safety of home… Today, there is yet again a trajectory toward home-based delivery of care for reasons beyond comfort and safety.”
According to this article, one of the “six dynamics creating momentum toward home-based delivery” is dramatic growth in the acceptance of telehealth technology.
“Technology has made it easier and more accessible to reach physicians remotely. Now, we’re looking to push technology in new ways to reduce care costs—incorporating wearable devices like smart watches into real-time and preventative care.”
“Technology solutions, in conjunction with the flexibility of value-based care programs, broaden ways to support a population, avoid hospital transfers, and other inpatient settings. It also gives patients and families—fearful of transitioning home after a hospital stay—peace of mind. Telemonitoring, telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and many other solutions, in conjunction with the permissions under at-risk and other capitated models of care, make living at home longer a reality.”
This summer, the Biden administration proposed $450B in funding for better jobs for direct care and extended funding to Medicaid to improve patients’ options at home before seeking institutional long-term care. Also, this summer a bi-partisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate. The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare posted on its website the following information about this legislation:
“The Choose Home Care Act is designed to serve those who are clinically appropriate for healthcare in their own home but need more services than available under the existing Medicare Home Health benefit.
The Choose Home option would:
- Allow nursing home eligible patients to have the option to receive health care at home following a hospitalization.
- Allow patients to receive all care services provided under the Medicare home health care benefit.
- Allow patients to receive expanded home health benefit services AND transportation, meals, home modifications, remote patient monitoring, telehealth services, and personal care services for 30 days.
- Not include cost sharing.
- Combine payments for the home health amount and fixed add-on for expanded services.
- Cap add-on payments for expanded services at 80% of the SNF 30-day payment amount, assuring significant Medicare savings under Choose Home.
On September 6, 2021, the Boston Globe published an article entitled the future of home health care is now. It was written by Humana’s chief digital health and analytics officer, Heather Cox. She writes that:
“Health plans must create a robust, coordinated ecosystem of traditional in-home and remote options for care. A combination of insights into patient needs and comprehensive offerings to meet them will help create the quality of care older adults deserve.”
Again, according to the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare:
“Many healthcare treatments that were once only offered in a hospital or a physician’s office can now be safely, effectively, and efficiently provided in patients’ homes by skilled clinicians. Home healthcare is generally less expensive, more convenient, and as effective as care provided in institutional settings… home healthcare has long been a safe and effective alternative to care in an institutional setting.”
How can PCPs best take advantage of the opportunities presented by these trends in home health? Through strategic partnerships with healthcare business process outsourcing (BPO) organizations that can seamlessly and transparently integrate best in class telehealth technology and team-based care services with a PCP’s current operations.
These healthcare BPO services for effective home based care integration with PCPs should include:
- 24/7/365 patient access to an expanded and scalable virtual Care Team with all patient encounter documentation into your EHR
- Multi-disciplinary virtual and visiting Care Team members led by your organization’s treating PCPs – visiting nurses/physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, care managers and health coaches
- Systems, devices, logistics and support for Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
- Medication adherence management
- Assessments and solutions to patient needs for Behavioral Health and Social Determinants
- Secure multi-channel communications for care coordination with all care stakeholders
For those providers who are interested in participating in these growth trends, the future of home health care is definitely now.
By John Byars, Senior VP for Strategy at SAM GROUP
For more information contact John Byars at J.Byars@samgroup.health