The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the delivery of healthcare in America. With individuals and families choosing to avoid hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and other congregate inpatient healthcare settings to protect against infection, it has solidified the belief that the future of healthcare delivery will be in the home.
Institutions Are Heading Into the Home
As hospital and skilled nursing facility (SNF) leaders scramble to reinvent themselves by creating “hospital at home” and “SNF at home” care models to plug the revenue losses resulting from the COVID public health emergency, the home-based care industry has been shaking its head wondering why they are looking to reinvent the wheel.
Home-based care has existed in every local community in America for decades – and in some states, for over 125 years. Originating as community-based public health nursing, followed by the formation of Visiting Nurse Agencies (VNAs) in the 1980s, in-home care has been the backbone of our nation’s healthcare delivery system.
How the Pandemic Has Prompted Care in the Home
Until now, little attention has been given to the business of home care. It has existed at the bottom of the nation’s “healthcare food chain” as an afterthought led by a brick and mortar system of hospitals, inpatient treatment centers and physician group practices.
However, COVID-19 has changed that. People are requesting and prefer in-home care. While these “hospital at home” and “SNF at home” models are on the right track, they still cannot compete with today’s home care providers and the intangibles that home care offers.
The Benefits of Home Healthcare
In-home care staff are the only segment of the healthcare continuum that drives to a person’s home, opens the front door, steps into a challenging home environment and assesses the whole person in the place that they live. They check the safety of the home, observe whether there is food in the refrigerator, if there is heat, air conditioning, telephone and electricity. They reconcile dozens of medication bottles and determine if bottles have not been refilled because the patient has no transportation or method of having the pharmacy refill it, or whether a family member has stolen it. They assess the relationship with family members, social isolation and if meals need to be brought in.
The nurses and care team get to know the patient and the family intimately and often are a patient’s only connection to the outside world. It is not uncommon for a home care worker to have a relationship with a patient for years later or for the rest of a patient’s life.
Home Healthcare Organizations Are Essential
Providing care at home is difficult and requires a passionate, dedicated workforce. This type of care cannot be recreated overnight by executives that are accustomed to having patients come into their facility in an artificial and structured environment.
Home care has always been patient-preferred, high quality and cost-effective. It is time for the healthcare continuum to recognize its value and for advocates to contact Congress to support its growth with fair provider reimbursement and ample margin to pay a living wage to the caregiver.
Our mission at Axxess is to provide state-of-the-art home healthcare software to ensure the future of healthcare is in the home. Axxess empowers enterprise organizations to provide better care in the home through our cloud-based software that makes documentation easier and aids in back-office tasks.