Abhilash Kumar

When we think about 2020, healthcare inevitably comes up. While organizations continue on their mission to manage the pandemic, it’s also time for them to begin thinking about future-proofing themselves to create a more robust system of delivery. This holds especially true for home health organizations that need to actively reorganize themselves for better patient outcomes. But where does this future-proofing journey begin?

Healthcare beyond the four walls of the hospital    

Take a moment to assess the scale of the home health industry. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that there were 11,844 home health agencies in the U.S. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that people in the age bracket of 65 will grow from 43 million in 2012 to over 85 million in 2050. With this growth in the old age population, the demand for home health services is expected to grow as well. By 2025, this market is poised to reach $147.45 billion.

In order to keep up with the magnitude of this growth, there are four key areas that home-based healthcare needs to focus on. Much like healthcare as a whole, home health organizations also need to align themselves largely to the quadruple aim, which refers to better patient experiences, improved care outcomes, lower cost of care and better staff experiences.

There are several technological solutions that cater to the home health market. While organizations have myriad options, here are three technologies that are increasingly gaining adoption in post-acute care and, more specifically, among home health teams.

Technology No. 1: Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

As a technology, healthcare is only starting to familiarize itself with Robotic Process Automation. RPA found its ground across several other industries and has slowly begun seeing increased adoption in healthcare. Robots are trained to log into systems and perform complex, repetitive tasks just as a human user would. In the home health setting, where teams are overburdened with administrative tasks, RPA helps automate daily tasks across intake, eligibility checks, referral management, authorization, claims and denial management, revenue cycle management (RCM) and much more. RPA for post-acute care solutions allows everyday tasks to be performed more accurately and efficiently, while recognizing revenues faster. This allows home health teams to perform at the top of their licenses and focus on larger business problems.

Technology No. 2: Artificial Intelligence (AI)    

One of the biggest advancements from the volume, velocity and veracity of healthcare data was the advent of AI in the care setting. Healthcare providers have been using AI for nearly a decade, helping them improve patient load prediction, utilization, RCM and much more. With the right AI platform and robust data, home health teams can also make significant improvements. AI requires time and investment, from transforming the data to constructing features and building machine learning models that can successfully predict outcomes. However, implementing AI in home health delivers predictive insights for use in cases such as better discharge planning, providing coding specificity, enabling utilization guidelines, reduced denials, better resource allocation and much more. Overall, AI helps home health teams align with lower costs of care, improved patient experiences and care outcomes.

Technology No. 3: Remote patient monitoring (RPM)    

RPM is finding a strong place in the home health scenario. The true north in RPM has only been uncovered in the last few years owing to the proliferation of advanced integration with smart phones and other smart devices. From reducing readmissions to predicting the possibility of falling among seniors, RPM delivers significant value in how home health teams are able to deliver care to their patients.

New opportunities

The Affordable Care Act paved the way to the data deluge we have in healthcare today. The digitization of all healthcare data and rampant adoption of electronic health records created new opportunities that gave healthcare vendors a boom.

While providers have made significant technological advancements towards patient care, post-acute teams are still finding their footing in technology adoption. In 2019, only 2% of acute care and LTPAC providers were using IT-driven strategies solely to coordinate patient care and transfer data. Come 2020, LTPAC providers witnessed firsthand the technological preparedness  necessary to ensure that care can be sufficiently delivered to members seeking home health services. Nonetheless, getting started and finding technology that delivers results aligning with the quadruple aim can be difficult.

It’s high-time for the healthcare industry to begin punching above its weight class when it comes to innovating. The use cases are plenty and the opportunities are abundant. The question to home health organizations is: When will you begin your transformative journey?

Abhilash Kumar is the head of marketing at Element5, leading all brand, demand, go-to-market and product marketing functions.