The COVID-19 Outbreak Disrupted the World Creating a New Normal for Home Care with growing opportunities and more seniors want care in their homes.
As a result of COVID-19 pandemic, Home Care providers across the US and throughout the world should be ready for the following impact:
- Elderly people are safer at home, and this will create an increased market demand for homecare providers
- Caregiver demand will increase, and caregivers will be looking for agencies which can provide them with the tools and resources to make their lives easier
- Growth and complexities from a growing market will require advanced software solutions
This will be the new normal post-COVID-19 outbreak.
The time to reform, adapt, and prepare is now for home care providers.
This is a unique time in history. We are in the grasp of a pandemic which has rapidly and suddenly stricken our society with fear, change and uncertainty. This has completely changed the way we think and do essentially every facet of our existence.
Although little is clear about what life might be like in the future, we are starting to see glimpses of how our lives may proceed as we emerge from the stringent policies of sheltering in place and the toll generated by extreme social distancing.
In these glimpses of the “new normal,” we believe there are a few important trends which are likely to emerge that will dramatically impact the Homecare industry.
Safer at Home.
Simply put, this pandemic has proven that the safest place for us to be is at home.
As for the foreseeable future, our homes are going to be a place in which we all spend more time. Bringing people in close proximity for extended periods of time is going to be discouraged when allowed. This is especially true for those who are at the most risk, such as our seniors and individuals with special needs.
Increased Demand for Home Care.
Keeping seniors and others that need care, in their homes, naturally will require more caregivers. This movement of care out of the facility and into the home is certainly nothing new, however, the anticipated growth in need, as well as the overall pace of that growth is going to be groundbreaking.
The movement of care into the home has been occurring, albeit at a measured pace in terms of 3rd party coverage, for the last five years. Increasingly payers cover care that proactively keeps seniors, people with disabilities and the other vulnerable members of our society out hospitals and institutions and in their homes. LTC insurers have long provided coverage as a cost-saving alternative to institutional care, the Veterans Administration and Medicaid also cover home care services.
In 2019 CMS Medicare Advantage (MA) began providing coverage to keep seniors in their homes as long as possible. This growing financial pathway combined with a majority (90%) of baby boomers desiring to stay in their homes has led to macroeconomic forces that were already combining; to create a huge wave of demand. Before COVID-19 homecare demand was projected to grow over 40% in the next 5 years.
Enter COVID-19 and what has been a disaster for nursing homes and assisted living communities around the country. Currently, roughly 2.5M seniors live in these facilities. It is difficult to tell exactly what impact these current events may have.
One might assume that many more will want to extend the time they remain in their homes and others may desire to move to home care. Certainly, we will likely see a reduction in people moving to facilities in the future. Individuals in facilities are the highest use homecare cases, often requiring 24/7 care from multiple caregivers. The impact on the demand for care can definitely be expected to increase and it may be significant.
Home Care providers will be urgently tasked with meeting this need for caregivers. This is a large opportunity for existing providers, and it will also attract new entrepreneurs and franchisors, as well as expanded attention on the industry by regulators. Incumbents must be prepared to quickly scale, recruit, onboard, train and ultimately retain their care staff.
Home Care’s Opportunity
Meeting this demand is the homecare industry opportunity of a lifetime, but this opportunity will come with a need to change and adapt.
It will require current homecare providers to quickly change and adapt the way that they operate in order to meet developing needs and find ways to produce superior value, increase safety while remaining profitable as a business. Additionally, they will be required to meet a growing number of regulations and reporting requirements that will likely follow the increased regulatory attention and 3rd party payer expansion.
Advanced Platform Solutions.
In order to ensure that quality care is being provided and scale is achieved, homecare providers will look to leverage more advanced technology with agency enterprise solutions, operations automation and point-of-care applications. Solutions will need to help agencies manage change, sustain their businesses and keep ahead of the competition.
Legacy or manual systems will be a relic of the pre-Covid-19 age.
Trying to meet the demand anticipated while at the same time trying to implement new solutions will hamper efforts to grow and scale. Providers with lacking technology today who act quickly now to select the right technology partner will have an advantage beyond the inherent benefits of the latest digital system.
By preparing today they will gain strategic advantage as service requests hit a steep trajectory. They will be positioned to grow smarter and faster than their peers.
This inevitable exponential increase in clients will not only have a positive impact for homecare providers, but also for caregivers. As we see this increase in demand for qualified caregivers, retaining talent will be critical. In order to do this, you will be required to provide tools for caregivers that are intuitive and allow them to have the information they need to be productive and provide quality care. This again will require agencies to have digital tools available to meet the needs of their growing employee base and meet the inherent complexities with technology that does not overburden agency administration.
Lastly, we should anticipate an increased portion of our efforts in homecare will necessitate ensuring less physical proximity and contact with our patients/customers. This will require better knowledge and understanding of the individuals that do come in contact with the client and their family. Providers will need to leverage dynamic scheduling to include caregiver and client verification, contact tracing and care team communication tools.
Easy to use digital tools, training and retaining talent, as mentioned previously, will be the key to provider success as we step beyond the confines of social distancing and engage in the new normal. We should anticipate that remote or virtual visits may become standard in care; which highlights the importance of integrated HIPAA secure communication tools at the point-of-care.
In summary, the near-term challenges which have been introduced through the COVID-19 pandemic will likely create opportunities for home care providers to offer their services to a broader audience. Homecare providers need to be ready for this response by preparing to scale the value they are providing to a growing volume of caregivers and customers. The loyalty of caregivers and customers will be critical during this time.
Those who are better prepared will prosper long-term. Many of the things we will prepare for today will have applicability for many years to come. Just like other substantial events in history, the changes that are implemented result in lasting benefits for those that are prepared. COVID-19 will push homecare forward with greater speed transforming our entire healthcare system and society as a whole.
SMARTcare Software can provide solutions that will help you and your agency prepare for the future of homecare. SMARTcare offers an easy-to-use enterprise solution to manage, schedule, and operate everything you need for your homecare business. SMARTcare is currently offering our COVID-19 Toolset at no charge to all homecare agencies.
The Toolset App includes reminders, agency notices, symptom checks, contact tracing and other important tools to help you manage your response to the pandemic. We are in this together. To find out more about SMARTcare Software, email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know how we can help.