For the most part, when we think of “home care,” we think of elderly individuals who are being cared for by paid caregivers that assist with non-medical needs, such as personal care or housekeeping tasks. We are also aware of instances in which medical assistance is provided in the home by nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, etc. The degree to which individuals are truly cared for at home vs. a health care facility is determined by patient need, combined with the source and availability of funds. But what does the future of home care look like?
As hospitals continue to be pressured to reduce readmission rates, the emergence of the “home visit” as a component to a patient’s care plan is producing desirable results. This facet of home care, delivered by such professionals as case managers, social workers, primary care physicians, health advisers, pharmacists, and other specialists, is not an attempt to preclude the need of individuals to receive care at a facility. Currently, recipients of home visits are primarily medically-complex patients who are at risk for being readmitted to a hospital for reasons that can be prevented if proactive measures can be taken by their healthcare team.
The home visit provides a first-hand look at a patient’s day-to-day environment and lifestyle, often shedding light on factors that might contribute to readmission but would often be overlooked in a clinical setting. The results of a survey recently published by the Healthcare Intelligence Network show that patient satisfaction, medication adherence, and overall health results, due to better adherence to a care plan, improve when such patients receive home visits. Learn more here.
Today, fewer than 10 percent of patients or health plan members receive home visits, with healthcare facilities citing funding and/or reimbursement as the greatest obstacle to incorporating home visits more regularly, and medication reconciliation, clinical assessment and patient/caregiver education being the top reasons home visits are scheduled. However, since among recipients, hospital admissions, readmissions and ER visits have been proven to be reduced, surely increased savings and reimbursement dollars far offset the cost of this healthcare delivery technique.
Perhaps we are looking at a shift in how overall healthcare is delivered in this country. Could it be that patient satisfaction and healthcare results would improve as a result of home visits, regardless of the age of the patient? Could home visits be a component to preventing patient conditions from becoming “medically complex”?
Certainly, it is the elderly and most critically ill among us who deserve this consideration first and foremost. But perhaps we can learn from the statistics that will result from studying this trend and determine that such up close and personal intervention by healthcare professionals can be a major component to a healthier nation…. and that the physician with a little black bag making house calls was always a great idea.