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What the rise of home-based care means for primary care physicians

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Article

Trend will require greater coordination with in-home care providers, but payoff will be better patient outcomes

The health care landscape is undergoing a significant transition, centered around the home. Driven by value-based care, patient-centeredness, and an aging population, a powerful alliance is emerging between primary care physicians (PCPs) and home health agencies. This evolution focuses on collaboration, integration, and closing gaps that leave patients vulnerable.

For years, PCPs have focused on patient-centered care. Today, value-based models are making it a reality. But how do you deliver truly personalized care to patients who, due to chronic conditions or logistical hurdles, struggle to get to the clinic? This is where home health agencies can step in, not as a separate entity, but as an extension of the PCPs reach.

©Homecare Healthbase

Gary Voydanoff
©Homecare Homebase

The growth of home-based care is remarkable. A recent study by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice found that the home care market is expected to reach $272 billion by 2026, driven by an aging population and increasing preferences for care in familiar surroundings. This has significant implications for PCPs, requiring them to adapt their practices to meet the needs of patients receiving care at home.

Traditionally, PCPs have focused primarily on care delivered within clinic walls. A rise in home-based care requires them to expand their roles and responsibilities to:

  • Coordinate care: Work seamlessly with home care agencies, specialists, and other health care providers to ensure patients receive comprehensive, coordinated care.
  • Embrace technology: Leverage telehealth tools for remote consultations, patient monitoring, and medication management.
  • Develop new skills: Learn how to effectively manage complex medical conditions in the home setting.
  • Advocate for patients: Ensure patients have access to the resources and support they need to thrive at home.

Imagine a world where PCPs and home health agencies are not just referring patients back and forth for traditional episodic home health care but are truly working together. In some innovative models, home health agencies are even employing PCPs, creating a seamless care team under one roof. This means more than just eliminating the frustration of bouncing between providers. It allows for rapid intervention, continuity of care, and a deeper understanding of the patient’s circumstances and specific needs.

It's about more than just convenience. It’s about closing the gaps in care that can lead to complications, readmissions, and, ultimately, higher costs. With a home health care nurse on the ground, PCPs can monitor medication adherence, conduct checkups, and even arrange transportation to appointments. They remain in charge, overseeing the entire care plan, while the home health caregiver becomes their eyes and ears in the home.

This partnership benefits everyone. PCPs don’t need to expand their already stretched staff, while home health agencies gain access to the expertise and guidance of a physician. But the biggest winners are the patients. They receive high-quality care in the comfort of their own homes, reducing stress and improving their overall well-being.

Looking ahead, the possibilities are endless. Large payers are recognizing the potential of this integrated approach, with some even employing physicians in their network of home health providers. This opens doors for specialized care, like palliative services, directly in the home.

Ultimately, this transition is about delivering effective, cost-conscious care to patients where they need it most. Lower readmission rates, stronger relationships with patients, and improved access to care in underserved areas are just a few of the key benefits. This alliance between PCPs and home health agencies leverages the unique strengths of each, revolutionizing patient care from their own living rooms.

Gary Voydanoff is senior vice president of sales for Homecare Homebase.

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