VNA Health Group is moving healthcare forward — through home and community-based healthcare, and even, through iTunes and Spotify. I’m pleased to announce that our new podcast, The Moving Healthcare Forward Podcast, is now live and listenable!
I’ll be sharing the conversations I have with leaders in the healthcare space. Together, we’ll discuss how to address the challenges facing everyday people, especially our most vulnerable, bridge the gaps in healthcare inequity.
Our first episode features an interesting interview with Bill Dombi, President of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, and I can’t wait for you to give it a listen on iTunes here, or on Spotify here.
The Importance of At-Home and Hospice Care
Today, home care is getting a lot of attention. It’s clear why: There’s a big expense associated with the cost of care and facilities, and people want a value-based approach to care. Plus, folks want to be at home as they age. Technologies make care at home easier, facile and more sophisticated.
At the state level, we’ve seen rebalancing of home personal care and long-term care, and even growth of new models of home care, like subacute models and rehabilitation approaches, along with end-of-life care at home and hospice. Care has become more and more about home-based care, rather than facility.
But at-home and hospice care hasn’t always been as highly regarded.
“If you take it back just a few decades,” Bill shares on the podcast, “the only people who were singing the praises of home care were the few patients who were receiving home care and the few providers who were delivering it. The choir has expanded significantly, as 12, [or] 14 million people a year are served [at home] in one form of home care or another. Clearly, it took a while to get there. In some respects, I look at home care as a healthcare service similar to the way the Wright brothers looked at air flight, that it was a fledgling concept, maybe a dream or a vision, rather than a reality.”
Medicare Advantage is Here to Stay
The Medicare Advantage Program is growing, but still needs a lot of reform. Case in point: It’s a great program if you’re healthy, but the degree to which people disenroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and need home health services is quite high. The average person can get more from the traditional Medicare program than they can from Medicare Advantage plans.
NAHC is currently running an in-depth study to examine what the consequences of Medicare Advantage behavior is relative to home health — with a look at the negative outcomes for patients in comparison to what might otherwise occur in the traditional Medicare program. There’s no doubt, Medicare Advantage is going to be here for those in their 50s or 60s. But we think it needs a lot of repair. Though it has promise for homecare services — not just home health, but healthcare at home generally — it should be viewed by Medicare Advantage plans as their best partner.
Incredible Advances in Care
Home healthcare is becoming more and more a reality every day, thanks to the tireless work of people like Bill, and like our nurses and home health aides here at VNAHG. And despite its challenges — it’s hard to find people to work in home care, we need more nurses than ever before, and home health aides are in short supply — there are so many rich opportunities in home healthcare.
“[Some of our advances] may seem like they’re incremental,” Bill says, “but the way my measuring stick goes, for every time you get kicked back a step, healthcare at home has taken us two steps forward. We’re making that progress. When we talk to healthcare providers who work in-home, they basically say the same thing, ‘I would not want to work anywhere else.’ This connection between themselves in their patients and their patient’s pets, dogs included with your father, is something they don’t get in any other kind of care setting.”