Home care is provided at home to patients who need post-acute care following a hospital visit or who require long term care. These comprehensive services are provided by nurses, therapists, home health aides and other direct-care staff.
The complexity of care provided in the home has grown in recent years; so have the number of patients needing care and the health severity level of those patients (especially as our population ages and as people continue to live longer).
Home care agencies today use leading-edge disease-management tools, like home telehealth, that further enhance patient monitoring and care delivery and save health care dollars.
On the personal level, home care allows patients to live independently, providing vital support for families while improving a patient’s quality of life. Patients receiving home care include the elderly, persons with disabilities, technology-dependent patients, as well as chronically ill and post-acute care patients of all ages.
On the health outcomes level, home care helps patients better manage a chronic health condition (i.e. congestive heart failure, diabetes, HIV/AIDS) at home, and recuperate after surgery. It allows elderly patients and patients with cognitive impairment to remain safely in their homes. On the health systems level, home care services result in better care management, preventing needless and costly hospitalizations and/or premature nursing-home admission. To illustrate, a study by Avalere (2009) found that early intervention post-acute home care services for patients with diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or coronary heart failure (CHF) saved $1.71 billion for Medicare and would have saved $1.77 billion more with wider use. For these reasons, home care is not only patient-centered but it is also the solution to making health care more efficient by reducing costlier service use — one reason why home care is referred to as the “safety net” of health care.