It’s no exaggeration to say that the pandemic has fundamentally changed hospice and home health care.1 And while some of these changes are a net positive, such as the shift to telehealth and the increased focus on patient-centered care, others pose a significant challenge for providers.
With the right approach, however, it’s possible for organizations to adapt and overcome — and come out better on the other side. Here’s what providers need to know about tackling the top three home health and hospice challenges.
Challenge #1: The Increasing Labor Shortage
According to recent poll data, more than half of Americans have been personally impacted by the growing healthcare labor shortage.2 In part, this shortage stems from the burnout many staff experienced working through the pandemic, and in part, it’s tied to the larger landscape of “The Great Resignation.” In practice, this means staff are both harder to find and harder to keep: Health care agencies are paying $24 billion more for labor compared to pre-pandemic costs.3
Solving this challenge starts with a reassessment of current pay structures, but success is about more than just money. Organizations must create workplace conditions that value employees’ expertise, prioritize peace of mind, and facilitate work/life balance.
Challenge #2: The Expanding Patient Population
Demographic data suggests a significant shift in the number of hospice patients over the next few years. By 2030, there will be more than 61 million “young old” Baby Boomers ranging from ages 66 to 84, along with over 9 million aged 85 or older.4
Combined with staffing issues, this poses a significant challenge for providers. With fewer workers in an aging population, the number of patients per caregiver could increase dramatically, in turn making it more difficult to provide effective, patient-centered care.
Here, home health and hospice providers must consider new ways to connect with patients and keep them engaged. This could mean the expansion of mobile and modular home health services to help patients remain in comfortable surroundings, or the increased use of new technologies such as virtual reality to help reduce patient stress and provide new avenues for connection.
Challenge #3: The Ongoing Impact of Manual Processes
Manual processes aren’t new to hospice and home health care, but as the need for on-demand access to patient information and treatment plans increases, these processes present increasing operational risk.
Consider recent data that shows 85 percent of healthcare purchasing still happens using paper checks.5 Along with an estimated $40 billion in transactions and other fees, this manual purchasing process costs companies more than $4 billion per year as a result of payment and invoice errors.
Comprehensive software solutions that include automatic error detection, incomplete form notification, and the ability to easily share and collaborate on key documents are the first step in overcoming this challenge. Equipped with a firm digital foundation, providers can expand offerings and better serve patients — without sacrificing accuracy or incurring unnecessary costs.
Bottom line? Change creates challenges in hospice and home health care. With the right approach, however, it’s possible for providers to not just survive but thrive in a market informed by labor shortages, driven by patient personalization, and underpinned by digital-first frameworks.
Find out more about how your staff can best tackle some of these challenges with Net Health® Home Health and Hospice.
Finding the Favorable: 5 Positive Impacts of COVID-19 for Hospice and Home Health Care
1 The American Medical Association (AMA), “Experts Discuss how Pandemic has Changed Palliative Care,” January 11, 2021.
2 Axios, “The Health Worker Shortage is Starting to Get Real for Americans,” March 7, 2022.
3 Premier, “PINC AI Data Shows Hospitals Paying $24B More for Labor Amid COVID-19 Pandemic,” October 6, 2021.
4 The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “The 2030 Problem: Caring for Aging Baby Boomers,” August 2020.
5 Health Affairs, “For Health Care Providers, Five Trends To Watch In 2022,” January 31, 2022.