Nearly 17 million more Americans now have health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a recent Rand Corporation study. And while it’s a positive step forward that more people have access to the care they need, the downside is that our already overburdened healthcare system will be stretched even further.
Unfortunately, one in five elderly patients discharged from hospitals in the U.S. today ends up being readmitted within 30 days, costing Medicare alone, upwards of $17 billion each year. Many of these readmissions could be prevented, and billions saved, if hospitals, doctors, and community health programs made more use of and worked closer with home care services.
Currently, home care is allowing us to help people with chronic conditions or serious illness heal in their homes while focusing the resources of hospitals and long-term care facilities on those who most need these services. However, we haven’t fully scratched the surface on how home care can continue to transform the industry, particularly through developing innovations that extend the benefits of technology to home-based care.
There is a need to better triage the way in which healthcare services are deployed so that they are value-based. Value-based care should focus on delivering better outcomes with the most efficient allocation of resources and the best experience for patients and their families. Costs and medical utilization can skyrocket when care is poorly coordinated. However, when care is well-coordinated, not only can a patient’s care transition from an acute care setting, they can also achieve focused care to the home that enables them to live their lives while avoiding hospital readmission.
The Affordable Care Act will undoubtedly have meaningful and widespread implications for the U.S. health system. To make the most of its benefits, we need to be willing to shatter the model of institutional care to continue to keep healthcare accessible. Home care is an existing, proven solution favored by patients that has the potential to address much of the demand that will be placed on our healthcare system.