With the growing healthcare needs of a rapidly aging population, home healthcare has been growing faster than all other care settings. Before the onset of COVID-19, there were rapid increases around the number of patients receiving care in the home, and because of the pandemic, the demand for home healthcare as well as the likelihood of a patient’s home becoming the center of care delivery has also increased.
COVID-19 accelerated a trend that our industry has expected for some time — the aging population is made up of individuals who prefer to receive care in the home, whenever possible. In the past year alone we’ve seen a great shift away from receiving care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) in favor of the home healthcare setting, increasing the demand for SNF-at-Home and Hospital-at-Home care models.
Here’s how I expect it will continue to impact the industry in 2021:
The need for home healthcare demand will continue, so the infrastructure must follow. Our data shows that one-to-one care with a nurse or therapist has fostered fewer points of contact for patients, reducing the likelihood of infection. As we continue to fight this pandemic, we must acknowledge that the patient journey is changing. It’s important that data follows the patient to each care setting, enabling seamless transitions — no matter where they receive care.
Virtual care will shine
Despite the demand for home healthcare from patients, there aren’t currently enough care providers to meet that demand. But with telehealth, virtual care and remote patient monitoring, there is huge opportunity for growth when it comes to providing care through these solutions. They’re innovative and time-effective, and I expect home health care to maximize their value.
Addressing industry pain points to solve the caregiver shortage
Another way to address the staffing shortages providers will have to tackle: documentation. Those that offer technology solutions that enable real-time documentation throughout the day will be more desirable for staff, which should help retain top talent.
The home healthcare industry is positioned to deliver continued value even as the impacts of COVID-19 wane following widespread vaccine distribution. Patients have experienced the convenience of receiving care at home, and those expectations have now been set. The industry must innovate to meet the demand, as it’s not expected to slow anytime soon. I, for one, am excited to see what’s next for the home healthcare industry.
Mark Tomzak is EVP and general manager, At Home Product, PointClickCare.