Home-based care has come a long way since 2020. But for the industry to rise to the next level and better leverage innovative technologies, a greater degree of interoperability is needed, according to Tim Ingram, executive vice president of interoperability at Axxess.
In this Future in Focus interview, Home Health Care News sits down with Ingram to learn all about the criticality of interoperability and how it’s advancing home-based care.
HHCN: To start, I’ll ask you to look back over the past few years to the very beginning of 2020. From then until now, how would you describe the overall progress home-based care has seen in the U.S. – and what are some of the best examples of that advancement?
Ingram: I think one of the great things that has happened since the beginning of 2020 is that, like it or not, home-based care providers and organizations have been forced to embrace technology. In general, almost every organization that’s providing care in the home is using more technology today than they were in 2020. And that’s a good thing.
I think an example of that is they’ve had to consider telehealth and remote patient monitoring in a different light, regardless of payment. Before 2020, before the pandemic, there was a lot of back and forth about the value of remote patient monitoring and of telehealth visits – and how much, if any, actual in-person visits those could replace. But with the onset of the pandemic, those tools became almost a necessity.
The last thing I would say is that our advocacy at both the state and federal level has really advanced, and I’m seeing more organizations that are interested in advocacy, including Axxess. I would say that we are leading the way in advocacy. I’m unaware of any other technology company in our industry that is doing things that we’re doing, particularly at the federal level, but also at the state level.
In what ways has your own organization advanced during this period?
I think one thing that most people probably don’t realize is that we’ve had incredible growth. We have more than tripled in size since the beginning of 2020. Some of that was planned, and some of it was simply because we took advantage of market demands.
Another specific one would be our Axxess Care solution, which expanded nationwide to help address the sudden impact of staffing in home care. We had Axxess Care in place before 2020. We ramped up that development and made it go nationwide because of the pandemic, and because we saw an opportunity to help organizations find caregivers in a different way.
We also expanded our online training and certification program. In that regard, we were maybe prescient because we began our online training and certification development back in 2018. That was to develop a complete online industry- and Axxess-specific training.
The last thing I would say is that we launched the only standalone palliative care solution in the midst of the pandemic to be able to address that growing market need.
Generally, as we conduct this interview in mid-2023, do you believe payers currently recognize the value of home-based care services? If they don’t, or if there’s still understanding that needs to happen, how are you and your organization contributing to those efforts?
I believe the payers’ understanding is growing. I know some of the payers really see the value, and I think that’s why you’re seeing some of the payers acquire the providers. I think their understanding is growing.
Their appreciation of the true value of home-based care is growing, too, and that’s not just in reducing the costs, but in increasing the quality of care and also the quality of the lives of the patients that they’re responsible for.
At Axxess, we have a solution that provides business intelligence, and it allows, even the payers, but especially the providers, to dissect pain points for the payers and then to be able to share direct results with those payers. I know a number of people offer business intelligence solutions and business analytics, but when you have an organization like Axxess that both has a home health solution and then has the business intelligence functionality built into that, then clients can really showcase their specific value to the payers through the use of better technology.
Looking ahead again, what’s on your advocacy to-do list for the rest of 2023?
I was able recently to participate in the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organizations and the Hospice Action Networks’ combined Hill Day. What that did was remind me that not only is direct, in-person advocacy important, but then follow up after that advocacy. That follow-up may be even more important.
I think it is not just important, but urgent that every organization get involved, like Axxess has, and has a better presence in D.C.
Axxess has the best presence of any technology provider, and likely better than a lot of the actual home care providers, in supporting care in the home and advocating. We even have our own political action committee that we established to be able to support and to be able to help elect candidates who are supportive of care in the home.
Continuing that is going to be really important. We have a senior vice president of public policy, Deborah Hoyt, who spends a lot of her time advocating for home health at the federal and state levels.
She helps us as an organization make sure that we are advocating based on things that are going on locally. If something is important in California, she can alert all of our California employees that they need to reach out to their state senators and representatives and we’re doing that at both the federal and the state level.
I think that will consume the rest of our 2023, doing more of that and making sure that we are as active as possible as an organization. As our CEO likes to say, if we don’t have a seat at the table, then we’re on the menu. Advocacy may be one of the most important things we can do to raise awareness and support for care in the home.
Editorial Note: This article was originally published on Home Health Care News. We are sharing this piece in three parts; this is part one.