Our nation’s healthcare system will become much more strained as the Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) passes retirement age, and the need for home healthcare services will rise dramatically.
The population eligible for Medicare in the U.S. in 2000 was 35.1 million, but that number will be almost double at 69.7 million by 2030. Home healthcare providers must be ready to meet this growing demand and identify key trends that will impact their business in the coming years. Here are 5 major home health trends of 2021.
1. Franchises Will Increase in Home Health Business
The fragmented home health care market is mostly made up of independent operators, corporate affiliates, and franchise-backed offices – with the franchise model on the rise. Companies entering this field are realizing they need experienced guides. There are ever-changing legal requirements and a difficult labor landscape with health care that must be considered; a landscape requiring skilled, compassionate workers and now a list of coronavirus-related challenges. Franchise models offer the guidance needed, and that’s spurring growth. Synergy HomeCare announced it sold 35% more territories in 2020 compared to 2019. As well as new owners, industry experts predict there will be many independent-to-franchise conversions.
2. Care Management Organizations Are “So Hot Right Now”
Many Baby Boomers plan to “age in place,” taking advantage of the many services now assisting with activities of daily living (ADLs). New technology has also paved the way for aging-in-place hardware and software such as remote patient monitoring and tele-health. With all the pieces of technology and ADL services people can choose from, who has time to research them all and figure out which are best for themselves or an aging parent? This is the service that Care Management provides. Many home care agencies are doing care management already; some just don’t charge for it or recognize it as a separate service. Experts say that will change in 2021 as current home care agencies are expressing interest in adding it as a service line.
3. Companionship Services Will Continue to Rise
As home care operators add new service lines, companionship services will be at the top of the list. Even before COVID-19, older adults in the U.S. faced loneliness and feeling cut off from family and the world around them. Almost one fourth of adults 65 and older are socially isolated, and the problem is often made worse by a lack of transportation, limited hearing and mobility, and other issues. Companion services will be an integral component to improve the well-being of the aging population, and individuals will seek out agencies that provide them.
4. Home Care Will Include SNF-at-Home
When many families took elderly family members out of skilled nursing facilities (SNF) at the height of the pandemic, home health companies built targeted SNF-at-home programs to bring high-acuity nursing services into the home. Those programs will continue and increase long after the pandemic. Industry leaders see an opportunity for home health workers to form partnerships with home care agencies to provide expanded SNF-at-home services. Being able to provide SNF-at-home programs hinges on having a supportive home care service.
5. Labor Disputes Will Emerge
The average pay for home health care workers is in the range of $9 to $12 an hour, and many workers are not reimbursed for transportation or provided health insurance benefits. The pandemic has shined a spotlight on the critical importance and need of our country’s health care workers. President Biden already laid the groundwork for a higher minimum wage of $15 an hour, which would force many healthcare agencies to get creative with staffing to pay the increase and keep providing quality care. If labor disputes are not settled, home healthcare may not have the workforce to supply the growing demand.
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