As 2017 comes to a close, we have been reflecting on a year full of change and growth. We move into the new year with a lot of unknowns, but recognize the potential of the months to come. Here are a few predictions for what we might see in homecare, and in the health care industry in general.

Demand is growing and resources are getting tighter

We already know that more of the population is requiring homecare as the massive Baby Boomer generation ages. In a competitive job environment, homecare will continue to struggle to attract the quality aide talent required to care for the influx of members. Many potential candidates are finding better paid jobs outside of homecare and healthcare, which will tighten an already limited reserve of caregivers.

Legislative unknowns are looming

The industry let out a collective sigh of relief when the Affordable Care Act was not repealed, but we’re far from being in the clear. There is still uncertainty around the future of the individual mandate, and in general, there’s no granular understanding of how legislative changes would affect the homecare industry, particularly in the realm of reimbursements. Speaking of…

Reimbursements will not keep pace with costs

Medicaid reimbursement rates have not stayed on par with the cost of delivering care, and homecare agencies are struggling to contend with declining or flat rates while still striving to pay their aides a competitive wage. We have yet to see how this will play out, but it will certainly be top of mind in the year ahead. Though not directly connected, discussions of minimum wage increases in select states, like New York, mean Medicaid organizations will be required to increase hourly wages.

The industry will grow more connected

Other countries are well on their way in terms of sharing digital information, but the U.S. has been lagging due to population and geographic diversity challenges. As with many industries, technology is changing how businesses are run and improving connectivity among stakeholders. In homecare, this means better established connectivity between Medicaid payers, homecare agencies, caregivers and members. In general healthcare, we’re already seeing health information exchange alliances and more established activity, which will soon extend to homecare.

2018 will be the year of growth in both demand and uncertainty – as the population gets older and more chronic diseases become commonplace, we have to better manage care in the home to combat rising healthcare costs. Homecare agencies need to find a way to streamline operations, increase connectivity and cut costs. Technology is perfectly poised to help bridge the gap between the shortage of care and making the provider network more efficient. The global market is filled with opportunity and growth, but homecare agencies must strive to adapt to changes before they can take advantage.

See what your agency can expect from HHAeXchange in the year ahead.