This November, we joined the rest of country in celebrating National Home Care and Hospice Month, and with it came a renewed focus on the ins and outs of home care, why the need for quality care is growing and the situations facing home care members. At HHAeXchange (HHAX) we are constantly seeking better outcomes for members, and November is another reminder of the importance of improving the quality and efficiency of today’s home care.

According to U.S. News and World Reports, there are more than 40 million Americans age 65 and older, comprising 13 percent of the population in the United States. The dynamics are changing, and aging generations are uncomfortable with nursing homes. The preference of many baby boomers has shifted toward home care, which allows them to age in place and be independent for as long as possible.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Studies reports that the U.S. healthcare budget exceeds $3 trillion; only $150.4 billion of that budget is allotted to home care spending for health, residential and personal care services as of 2014. Despite all of the advances in technology across the industry, home care lags behind with disconnected systems and communication. Meanwhile, expanding home care services has the potential to bring down that $3 trillion budget significantly. The cost of readmissions in 2011 exceeded $41 billion; applying much more affordable health care in place of hospitalization could put a significant dent in that price tag.

The broader healthcare industry needs to make home care a top priority in order to answer the need for the aging population. The data backs up this claim:

  1. Patient independence at home: According to a 2015 AARP study, 90 percent of seniors said they would prefer to stay in their home as long as possible and receive care. A person’s home provides a heightened level of comfort and sense of security.
  2. Hospital readmission rates: As noted, readmissions are costing the system billions. Without the proper care, many patients are readmitted to the hospital with infections, and sometimes in even worse condition. Michael Daly, a clinical associate with the Schroeder Center, recently examined the readmission rates of Medicare patients treated for certain conditions and found that patients are 2.5 to 2.8 percent less likely to return to the hospital within 30 days following treatment if treated in the comfort of their homes.
  3. Care for the vulnerable: Home care can play a tremendous role in protecting the most vulnerable among us, from the elderly to the chronically ill to the disabled. According to the Foundation for Hospice and HomeCare, there were over 337 million Medicaid home care visits in 2015, with the vast majority of those patients being vulnerable.

Not only does National Home Care and Hospice month honor the millions of nurses and home care aids, but it allows for a heightened awareness of the importance of this care, and emphasizes why many in the home care industry need to put action behind making this care readily available to all those who need it in the future.

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