Do You Want Fries With That? Adapting to Home Health Market Growth

Published in Member Communities on March 22, 2022

Mike IsaacsonBy Mike Isaacson, SVP, Business Development, VGM & Associates

Anyone working in the healthcare field over the past 18 months deserves our thanks … if not a medal! While we have always understood the important role that home health plays in the healthcare continuum, this past year and a half has raised the bar for all of the healthcare work, but nowhere as impactful as the home healthcare segment.

To be fair, more and more people were choosing to remain in their homes to receive care before the COVID-19 pandemic rolled in. However, as nursing homes and other long-term care facilities were forced to close their doors to outside visitors, even more individuals and families were looking for options for at-home care. This burgeoning migration to in-home health is the force behind the projected growth of the industry from its current $181.9 billion to over $247 billion in 2025.

Projected growth of the industryAs mentioned, the pandemic shined a light on the desire, and even need, for people to seek healthcare in their homes. While this was the highlight, the trend to homecare has been growing for many years. More and more people are demanding options for their long-term care needs as well as their rest and recovery environment. According to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), skilled nursing facilities saw their census drop to their lowest numbers (lower than 80% nationally) since data started being collected. Some reporting shows since January 2021 that number has ticked up slightly due to vaccine availability, however, it is not believed numbers will return to “pre-COVID” levels.

I Want Fries With That

Personal choice in healthcare and healthcare settings is a demand that is testing the limits, innovations, and in some cases the patience of the home health industry. To adapt to the demand, we must be able to shift and overcome a long history of the traditional healthcare model. As healthcare consumers become more knowledgeable of their options, and gain access to more information than ever before, we must embrace the opportunity to be creative and forward-thinking to remain relevant.

SNF saw their census drop to the their lowest numbers graphic

There is no more “one size fits all” model to be followed. While treatment modalities are changing and patient needs, wants, and desires are becoming more sophisticated, the need to look at each person as an individual and NOT a healthcare plan is paramount. There is opportunity in this approach—if we take advantage of providing services to the whole patient. So, where should we be looking?

5 Opportunities to Explore

  1. Telehealth – This trend during the pandemic is not going away. It may change or morph as we leave the PHE in the rearview, but the Genie is out of the bottle on this advancement. How can you engage and utilize telehealth to your advantage?
  2. Remote patient monitoring (RPM) – Gaining in popularity every day, this trend allows for more patient engagement, more independent consumers, and more trackable outcomes.
  3. Speaking of outcomes – How are you tracking your product/service efficacy and efficiency? More importantly, how are you using the data to continuously improve, adapt, and market your services to the individuals, referral sources, and payers?
  4. Ease of use – Technology is creating efficiency in many aspects of life. People want a clean and easy user experience and are demanding that experience in all facets of their life. Are you easy to find, easy to schedule, pay, and work with? What is your online presence, and how are you ensuring you are the product/service of choice?
  5. Get closer partners – We must engage our partners in healthcare in an intentional and meaningful way. The home health nursing agency down the street is always looking for products and supplies. The consumer and their families are online looking for support, and doctors and facilities are looking to partner with entities that can expand their reach into the homes and improve patient outcomes. Are you their go-to call?

Get Engaged or Fall Behind

At the end of the day, each of us needs to take a look at our operating models and our engagement with patients, referral sources, and payers. There are a lot of opportunities continuing to come our way as the trend to home-based care continues to grow. Indeed, the train has already pulled out of the station. It’s not too late to catch up, but in order to do so we MUST embrace the changing consumer needs and adapt our way of doing business to meet the demand of today’s healthcare consumer.


VGM Playbook: Forecasting 2022This article was originally featured in the VGM Playbook: Forecasting 2022. To read more articles like this, download your copy of the playbook today

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