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Trend Watch: As In-Home Healthcare Services Grow, Patient Engagement Becomes Even More Important


Advancements in digital health and logistics technology have investors flocking to non-traditional and remote care startups. Mobile healthcare engagement via apps and text messaging are gaining significant ground. Wearables are getting smarter every day.

And these trends were taking off well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

So it’s no surprise that just as telehealth may soon become as ordinary as online banking, in-home healthcare services are opening the digital health front door wider than ever before.

Care provided outside of facility settings—in a patient’s home—is expected to increase considerably in a short amount of time, according to HomeCare magazine. Hospital-at-home care, modern house-call wellness visits, voice- and sensory-activated remote monitoring, behavioral health visits, medication reconciliation, nutrition support and preventative care test kits are just some of the in-home services available now that were once only via inpatient care.

Trends affecting healthcare delivery

What’s fueling the rapid adoption of in-home healthcare services? Cost-savings for payers, providers and consumers, and convenience for patients are two driving factors. Add in the coronavirus pandemic, which may require a longer-term, “safer-at-home” lifestyle for many, and it makes sense from a public health perspective, too.

At the same time, U.S. health plans are preparing for a “silver tsunami,” when older people will outnumber children for the first time, in just under 10 years’ time. Organizations with risk-based contracts, particularly Medicare Advantage (MA) health plans, are an especially good fit for home-based care.

Healthcare engagement a vital part of success

As health plans and their members begin to rely more on in-home healthcare services, Carenet Health expects the emphasis on effective engagement—and how it can support moving care from the office to the home—to increase, as well.

“Advances in this market have the potential to shake up the mix of how care is delivered,” explains Chief Growth and Strategy Officer Steve Harstad. “That will require new relationship-building strategies.”

That’s because everyone—caregivers, plans, providers and consumers—will likely be asked to use digital health tools at some point. In just about every type of remote patient monitoring situation, for example, consumers will need guidance, clinicians will need access and the lines of communication will need to remain open. And smart engagement strategies can help improve everything from enrollment, adoption and activation to utilization and follow-up.

In fact, for remote patient monitoring, for instance, to become the norm, engagement will be crucial. Patients are naturally going to have fears, challenges, barriers and questions, whether about the technology, program, instructions or clinical oversight.

Health plans and providers will need to educate patients about their expected role and ultimately build their confidence. In addition to coordinating the ordering and delivery of any necessary home equipment, they will need to help patients and caregivers (often virtually) set up sometimes-sophisticated technology. And of course, there will need to be ongoing clinical and tech support, plus positive reinforcement and reminder communications to ensure patients continue to participate in their care at home and in some case submit the necessary data.

Engagement can also help bridge generational gaps 

While health plans are gearing up to transition at least some inpatient services to be delivered at home, consumers, particularly older adults, have some concerns.

Only 50% of all consumers are comfortable using at-home diagnostics, according to a 2020 Survey by Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. For instance, 48% of Gen Z and millennials, versus 28% of seniors, say they feel confident using at-home blood tests.

The most pressing issue for health plans? Those who might benefit most from in-home care are the most likely to need help using it. Healthcare engagement programs that educate, encourage and offer support will be needed to help ensure the boom in at-home healthcare services continues.

The rise in at-home care and its relationship to new patient engagement needs is one of our top eight predictions discussed in our 2021 Healthcare Consumer Engagement Forecast. You can download the complete forecast here.

To learn more about Carenet Health’s healthcare engagement services, connect with us today.