Building connected home health services: 5 things to consider
- Posted on May 27, 2021
Many of us have experienced healthcare outside a traditional setting in the past year, including virtual care from the comfort of our own homes. The COVID-19 pandemic essentially became an experiment in the use of new care delivery methods powered by technology and artificial intelligence (AI).
But for millions of Americans — especially older adults — receiving care in their homes is nothing new. And with the entire baby boomer generation reaching 65 by 2030, home healthcare usage is only expected to climb.
While we're still learning how telehealth impacts long-term health outcomes, research shows it can positively impact behavioral healthcare and care for chronic conditions. And it’s well known that proper home healthcare can lower costs and reduce hospital admissions and readmissions. With the pandemic forcing healthcare to become more digitally “connected” — and with all we know about the positives of telehealth and home healthcare — it seems that merging the two concepts could benefit healthcare consumers and the health system alike.
Below are five things to consider when building more connected home health services.
1. A tech strategy can reduce barriers to care
We’ve talked to clients who, at the start of COVID-19, had to quickly shift to virtual care. For many, this worked well in their inpatient and outpatient settings, but their home health programs weren’t so quick to transition. As a result, many were left without access to care. In May, Avanade and Microsoft hosted a roundtable event titled Remote Care: Connected Care at Home. During this discussion, participants shared their experiences and stressed the need to ensure home health services are equipped and ready at the right time with the right technology. This will help break down barriers to care like those we saw during the pandemic.
2. ‘Connected’ home health extends even more services into the home
Beyond supporting home health providers in situations where virtual care is needed, connected home health services can also be used to deliver other healthcare services into the home. Technology can support safe and convenient in-home chemotherapy, dialysis and physical therapy.
And remote-patient monitoring tools — including wearable devices and sensors — can manage chronic conditions or help patients with more acute needs avoid hospital readmissions.
We’ve helped clients reduce hospital admissions for patients with chronic conditions by discharging them with a personalized tablet that they use daily to check and record biometric data like weight and blood pressure. These tablets deliver real-time alerts and daily assessment data to providers, who then use the information to manage the patient’s care from a distance.
3. Operations can achieve efficiencies
While consumers are the biggest beneficiaries of connected home health services, providers also stand to gain. The right technology can help with resource scheduling and can even be used by providers to solve in-home medical equipment problems from a distance. One major tech company speaking at the recent roundtable uses a mix of augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) to help clinicians troubleshoot and run equipment, view all data from clinical systems, and even appear to home-based patients as holograms, reducing overall physical visits by 30%.
4. The tech-savvy consumer population is expanding, and aging
Social distancing over the past year has brought with it a desire to connect in new ways. But connecting through technology isn’t just for younger generations. AARP’s annual technology survey revealed that more than half of adults over 70 owned a tablet, with 69% of those tablet owners using them daily.
Medicare-age patients today are tech-savvy. They have expectations and demands around tech-enabled healthcare that we must be ready to meet.
5. There are still challenges to overcome
Despite the past year’s rapid rise in tech use, hurdles remain when it comes to building more connected home health systems.
Payors are playing catch-up when it comes to paying for home care and virtual services. And barriers remain for people in inner cities or rural areas without access to broadband internet or smart devices. To ensure more health equity, it will be critical to develop platforms that work for everyone.
An intelligent solution for home health
Avanade and Microsoft are building a roadmap for connected home health services.
We offer intelligent mobile field service for home health, giving home health professionals the tech tools they need to be efficient from wherever they work. Our technology enables communication and collaboration across care teams, operational efficiencies through smart scheduling tools, and integration into the correct clinical systems to make care decisions in the field.
If you’re looking to build a more connected home health service, Avanade can help. Connect with one of our experts.