The home health care industry has come of age in 2018 and has stepped into 2019 becoming more organized and effective. It is recognized as the integral part of the continuum of care overall. This is due to its potential and the benefits that it provides to the older patients in a much safer way and more comfortable setting, their homes. Such services are provided at the same level as it is provided in a hospital setting with close coordination with the physician of the patient.
However, there are a few big changes noticed in home health care sector which are welcome and appreciated by the stakeholders. It is due to that fact that the federal policymakers has now allowed a few non-skilled in-home care services to provide such assistance to the home bound patients under the Medicare Advantage or MA program. This will boost up the demand of home health care services in 2019 for sure.
Home health care now gets more specialized and clinical than it was before. Traditionally, people used to consider home care more of a non-medical care that did not require much skill or training. It was thought to involve a few specific types of services that included:
- Transportation for keeping doctor’s appointments
- Intermittent or continual companionship and
- Light housekeeping services.
In 2018, such perception among the people started to change both among the people as well as the agencies that provided such care. There are several large and small agencies now that have touted to have launched several specialized home health care programs especially for those home bound patients who suffers from medical conditions of different types such as:
- Heart failure
- COPD and
- Any other complex and chronic conditions.
For each of these patients they design specific care programs that are tailored to meet their particular needs. Moreover, the fact that there are now multiple drivers available for such services will make home care to be even more specialized and clinical in 2019.
- The primary reason for this is that specialized care programs are prove to provide more profits to a home care provider.
- The home care solutions are now designed much better than the standard offerings and involve much more than actual care provision.
- Specialized programs also lead to new and better revenue streams as well for the companies thereby requiring the service providers to be more competitive and competent.
Furthermore, the new Medicare Advantage has provided better opportunities to the patients to avail more specialized and clinical care that has also added to the drive.
- With better health plans irrespective of the cost factor will encourage more and more home bound older patients to turn to the home care service providers for retaining their health even in multiple chronic and complex conditions by staying out of the hospital.
- It will also make the providers to design and provide better specialized programs to these patients to demonstrate results which will in turn help them to secure such relationships having an edge.
As for the agencies, this MA appeal and profitability are good reasons to design specialized care programs not only to gain more clients but also to attract and retain caregivers with higher wages. In addition to that, it helps them to gain more knowledge and clinical expertise in specific medical conditions such as dementia, heart failure and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD.
In short, agencies investing in specialized and more clinical home health care programs find it easier to provide more value to their clients with higher quality of care. Therefore, expect more specialized home care programs to come up in 2019.
The Medicare advantage
Another significant trend noticed among the older patients as well as the home health care agencies is the shift toward MA. This is likely to go on in 2019 as it provides both with significant advantages.
Ideally, the home care industry experienced a shock in April 2018 when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS announced and allowed some non-skilled in-home care services to enjoy the supplemental benefits of MA programs that are increasingly popular.
- Since then the home care providers have been looking forward to form partnerships with payers so that they can fortify their data collection efforts. This has helped them in a way to find out better alternative with which they can capitalize on the new opportunities to their best.
- This has paved the path to success for the home care agencies which is expected to reach its peak by the end of 2020 or 2021. Companies will have a natural advantage to scale up because both national and regional payers usually prefer avoiding working with smaller partners.
- According to report of Excel Health it is seen that about 35% of all worthy Medicare beneficiaries are presently signed up for this Medicare Advantage. It is expected that MA growth will surpass Medicare growth overall seeing the millions of new enrollees in each quarter.
You can therefore expect the health care plans to detail the benefits of incorporating home care plans in 2020. This will significantly reduce the cost of health care therefore paving the way of the major payers to acquire a major home care company. Therefore, do not be surprised if you see soon that an insurer itself has an ownership stake in the personal home care sector such as Medicare certified hospice and home health care providers making a mix of payer and provider.
The staffing war
In the home care industry, recruiting and retaining qualified home caregivers has always been a significant and perpetual challenge. This has been fueled by the rise in demand for such care by the aging populace of America. The turnover rate is estimated something in between 40 and 67%.
According to research firm Home Care Pulse, with more benefits packages offered the projected cost of training or even hiring a new caregiver will be about $2,600. This points out at labor crunch persisting in 2019 thereby worsening the staffing war.
If this can be controlled, home health care industry will surely flourish in 2019.