Why In-Home Care is the Next Big Healthcare OpportunityKendra Handzel
By Laurie Knutson, President
As you might imagine, having been active in the healthcare community for some 30+ years, I’ve seen some fairly significant changes and shifts in our industry. From the inception of Consumerism and High Deductible Plans, to Medicare Part D, implementation of the ACA, and a shift to retail medicine and growing need to redefine medication adherence, the industry keeps evolving.
Each change is well-intended and disruptive for stakeholders and individuals. And in every case, these changes have called for a societal shift and consideration for new ways of managing our health – financially, systematically and behaviorally.
And try as we might to design around the individual, it’s a struggle. We struggle to consider how regulations, advancing technology, payment models, and structural change impacts day-to-day lives and the care journey for each individual. The goal of putting the person at the center of the care model has been difficult to achieve.
But wait, at the intersection of technology and economic necessity there is innovation!
As the population ages, the broader healthcare ecosystem is beginning to embrace new thinking around what really matters to people. And this time, care actually IS centered around the person. It’s in-home care. Now more than ever, seniors in particular have a strong desire to remain in their homes as long as possible and the focus of the healthcare system is shifting to how best to achieve that end. Aging in place, in-home is valuable to the individual, their caregivers, and to the broader healthcare system. Here are 3 reasons why:
- In-home care saves money
The cost of healthcare isn’t just increasing, it’s becoming down right unaffordable. As the personal cost of care escalates, the vast majority of seniors will spend their entire retirement savings to keep up long before they planned. The average out of pocket medical costs for a 65 year old couple will be $218,000 over the next 20 years, excluding long-term care. And skilled nursing facility care center expense averages around $200,0001 year. Leaving the home can be financially devastating, and for many, it’s simply out of the question. Remaining in-home longer supported by care as needed, is more than the best option, it’s often the only option.
- In-home care complements an already evolving system
While retail offerings (ie., MinuteClinic, mobile care units, etc.) offer some level of convenience, seniors generally continue to receive care at their primary care clinic. Doctor visits require mobility, coordinating appointments and can be costly too. For many, getting to doctor appointments becomes the primary focus of day-to-day life. The increasing availability of telehealth and supplemental in-home services offers a new level of convenience for seniors when care can be safely administered without compromising quality. CMS is warming to the benefits of in-home care by broadening eligibility criteria and payment for appropriate telehealth and home-based care.
- In-home care addresses the impending shortage of caregiver resources
Oftentimes, remaining in-home requires active support from family caregivers. Employers are feeling the productivity pinch when employee caregiver responsibilities burden their time, wallets, and their own health. In situations where a family member isn’t a support option, individuals must retain community resources and paid staff to subsidize their care needs. The problem is that future demographics point to a looming human resource crisis nearly as alarming as the financial pressures of an aging population. Today there are 10 caregiver resources for every senior. By the year 2050, when the majority of baby boomers are over 75, that ratio will shrink to 3.2 Home Care providers and Senior Living facilities are already struggling to find workers. We need to embrace new models of remote care that align with demographics.
So where do we go from here? If in-home care saves money but the uptake in more non-traditional care models is slow, how might we get to both more quickly? And how can we better support family caregivers who fill the gaps that enable loved ones to age in place? Therein lies opportunity.
Startups, disruptors, and newcomers to in-home care have a role to play. I’m talking about the Best Buy, Alexa, Nest, Apple, Amazon, Simple Meds and Ōmcare’s of the world. New technologies are enabling a remarkable shift from an acute-case, illness-based system to a more connected system that includes care many professionals in many places. From personal care assistance, home healthcare providers, tech-enabled home security, remote monitoring and medication assistance, supporting the many needs of those aging in place is both an opportunity and a necessary change. There will certainly be disruption to existing stakeholders, however meeting the growing needs of our aging population is in everybody’s best interest. Creating a community of caregivers and using technology to align resources will help ensure better care, greater independence, financial sustainability, and well-being for the future.
There’s no silver bullet here. Instead, a more connected ecosystem of solutions will support our senior population segment and better serve their needs. And those who build into the fabric of existing systems will do this best, leveraging the power and creativity of many to keep the consumer at the center of their care.
At Ōmcare, we are passionate about connecting people with the resources they need to maximize their independence. As a video conduit into the home that enables remote medication dispensing, we address the most basic reason people are forced to leave their home; they can no longer manage their medications. We offer peace of mind to family caregivers, and more frequent monitoring and face-to-face conversations gives clinicians what they need to keep seniors healthy and well at home. And it’s easy to use, eliminating the need for multiple devices and logins.
Ōmcare makes the extension of care at home possible – for a longer period of time. We know that’s what matters most to seniors and their caregivers and we invite others to connect, work with and join us to achieve the goal of independence through better remote care, at home.
1 Source-Fool: https://www.fool.com/retirement/general/2016/01/26/20-retirement-stats-that-will-blow-you-away.aspx