The demand for home-care employees is large and growing, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With baby boomers heading into their latter years and their children—the millennial generation—being big on mobility and just getting their employment legs on the heels of the Great Recession, the ability of families to do a lot of the caretaking of home-bound relatives is curtailed. The U.S. Department of Labor projected in 2007 that job growth for registered nurses in the home healthcare sector would be 39.5%, substantially greater than the 21.6% projected growth in the hospital sector.
But growth in demand is outpacing growth in the supply of qualified in-home care workers, according to Simione Healthcare Consultants. The conundrum is that demand for in-home care is greatest in wealthier metropolitan and suburban areas, but those are the same places where commutes are the worst and cost of living for the home-care employees is the highest. Salaries just cannot keep up. And long commutes, large gaps between patient visits, and lost income due to those scheduling problems are common complaints, according to AlayaCare, a provider of home healthcare software.
The answer to these problems may rely on technology. Scheduling and route optimization could reduce travel time between patients, more effectively pair home-care workers with patients requiring their specific skill sets, and automatically adjust schedules and alert workers of changes in real time. Remote monitoring of home healthcare patients may also help home healthcare providers understand changes in patient needs that might require a rejiggering of which worker is sent for a visit.
Legislation might also help with funding and regulatory relief. The CHRONIC Care Act, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah and introduced in the U.S. Senate on April 6, 2017, could move the needle if adopted. It would provide greater access to innovative care delivery, such as telemedicine, and would allow insurers and healthcare providers to personalize treatment for Medicare patients with chronic conditions or illnesses. The act, S. 870, would modify the Social Security Act to extend the independence at home demonstration program both in time and in money limits, expand access to home dialysis therapy, advance team-based care for special needs patients, support supplemental benefits for the chronically ill if there is a reasonable expectation of improvement or maintenance of health using that care mode, allow for telemedicine under Medicare Advantage and accountable care organizations, and empower coordinated care, among other important improvements.
For solutions to work, they must be approved and then implemented. Greater efficiencies can minimize the difficulty home healthcare employees face in assisting patients, while legislative and regulatory reforms can help provider agencies work together, expand services and secure payment for those services. But it will take a team effort and some advocacy from the industry’s stakeholders—from healthcare company owners, to service providers to patients.
About Manchester Specialty Programs
At Manchester Specialty Programs, you will find all the business insurance coverage you need to operate your business, and all in one program. We deliver specialty insurance programs that are specifically designed for home care firms in both medical and support roles. Our comprehensive home health care provider insurance program is designed to help these agencies continue to provide the important services they offer throughout our communities. For more information about our programs, you or your local agent/broker can contact us at 855.972.9399.