Home Care Trends to Watch in 2016

Published January 27, 2016

Home care providers will continue to see major opportunities as the industry becomes a stronger partner to institutional medicine. That said, home care providers must prepare to embrace the challenges of a quickly changing landscape in order to remain relevant and keep up with the competition.

Key among those challenges will be staying ahead of fast changing technologies as well as an increasingly complicated regulatory environment.

Advancing Technology

Home care providers have the opportunity to access and take advantage of the latest technologies in order to improve care while lowering costs. As the technology landscape grows, we will continue to see an emerging range of devices that can instantly transmit vital health data and other feedback between patient, family, doctors, nurses, and home care providers.

For example, St. Jude Medical Inc. announced results in 2015 showing that patients with cardiac devices who use remote medical monitoring required fewer hospitalizations and lower medical costs compared with patients who did not have this technology at home. These results are based on a five-year study – the largest study so far to determine the benefits of remote medical monitoring technology.

Learning how to correctly and effectively use these technologies takes considerable time and effort. Some agencies are leading the pack in these areas while others are in danger of falling behind. Looking for ways to incorporate remote medical monitoring technology will provide an unprecedented collaboration between all patient stakeholders, creating a seamless and personalized care plan.

Regularity and Reimbursement Complexity

Home health care services for three million beneficiaries now accounts for nearly $20 billion per year in Medicare expenditures. While much of the money spent on home care ultimately reduces overall health care expenditures it can provide over institutionalized medicine. So, the bigger a budget item you become, the more political scrutiny you will invite.

This scrutiny has led to payment cuts and increased regulatory hurdles, a trend we are like to see continuing. More than ever, home care providers need to work closely with legal counsel, plan administrators and other regulatory advisors in order to ensure they remain in compliance of all federal, state and local rules and regulations.

Bundled Payments

Home care providers also need to be prepared to handle Medicare’s new bundled payments model. Agencies will see this model kick in for joint replacement surgeries. While this will add to the overall complexity, the new bundled payments models will help incentivize hospitals and other acute care providers to work closer with home care providers, resulting in a reduction in hospital readmissions and better patient outcomes.

Home care providers who know how to take advantage of the latest technologies and are prepared for upcoming regulatory changes, will be in the best position to take advantage of opportunities set to arise in the coming year.