Amazon recently announced their intention to enter the healthcare field. While we can all agree that Amazon-like efficiency will dramatically improve the quality and efficacy of home care, we must also recognize that home-based caregivers need more than just mobile-friendly apps. They need software tools and that help non-medical caregivers bring about proper interventions, reduce risky readmissions, and reduce overall costs. In the last few years, I’ve struck a cautionary note in my writings about technology and the role it plays in home care. As far back as 2015, I reminded the industry of the limitations of home care technology. In 2016, I took a strong stance on how more than apps are required to create stronger, better-connected home care networks.
The Future of Home Care Technology
With home care technology entering the era of Amazon, health plans looking to make a difference to their bottom lines, and to their members, need to evaluate how their care partners are using technology to improve the services they deliver. In particular, you need to evaluate how your home care partners use technology to improve outcomes along at least these three dimensions:
- Intervention and prevention
- Utilization and unnecessary readmissions
- Costs and quality
Intervention and Prevention
The need for intervention in home care has been well documented. Consider this excerpt from an evidence-based guide for nurses: “…interventions to promote patient safety and quality care must account for the fact that patients will sometimes choose to act in ways that are inconsistent with the relevant evidence, and the clinician’s best efforts may not result in desired outcomes.” It goes to show, effective intervention must consider each patient’s attitude about care, situation, and health. Technology that supports intervention, then, must include and interpret these factors. This starts to change the way we think of intervention. We realize it’s less about intervening, and more about preventing – getting the right care at the right time so members stay ahead of health problems that might otherwise land them back in the hospital or ER.
Utilization and Unnecessary Readmissions
This brings us to the next element home care technology must address: unnecessary utilizations. When a patient enters post-acute care at home without proper caregivers and supporting resources, they’re at risk of being sent right back to the hospital, ER, or care facility they just left. This is problematic because members are at increased risk with each care transition. It also costs the patient, and their health plans, more money at each transition. According to a report from CMS, “research has demonstrated that unplanned readmissions cost Medicare $17.4 billion in 2004.”
Costs and Quality
Finally, we see the full picture – interventions allow prevention, which contributes to reduced readmissions, helping keep costs down. Lowering cost is not the only goal though. Patient health is the top priority. Fortunately, lower costs are a result of higher-quality care. Higher-quality care stems from higher pay for caregivers, enabled by companies that can leverage nationwide networks of caregivers alongside data-based technology solutions. This makes sure non-skilled caregivers have the support they need to keep patients happy and healthy - profiting everyone in the care continuum. Home care with technology at its core empowers health plans to stay competitive. Choosing the right home care partner can help you extend reach, provide actionable insights and reduce costs and utilization. Future-thinking health plans need to ask the question for themselves before choosing a home care partner: does the technology this company uses live up to the expectations of a tech-driven world? Because they’re going to need it to stay ahead in today’s regulatory turmoil.