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Telehealth services will be a major focal point.
The home healthcare industry is in the midst of a rapid expansion, driven by an aging U.S. population. The senior citizen demographic (aged 65 years or older) will reach 16.9% of the total U.S. population in 2020, and is expected to continue rising, forecasted to reach 20.6% by 2030.
In a new study, Definitive Healthcare, provider of data, intelligence, and analytics on the healthcare provider market, surveyed leaders at U.S.-based home health agencies in October of 2019 in order to uncover the most common services areas, lines of specialized care, and future plans for strategy and development.
The study found:
“We really wanted to uncover where the industry was headed; what service lines might be developing, what disease states or conditions are going to be a focal point for specialized care, and what technologies might come into play in the near-term future,” says study creator Matt Valley, senior healthcare analyst, Definitive Healthcare. “Growth is certainly occurring. Areas of specialized care are expanding pretty quickly, home health agencies have begun tailoring their care to specific disease states or conditions, and I think it is very telling that over the next two years, nearly three-quarters of responding organizations plan to either expand into additional disease states or conditions, or begin offering specialized care as a specific service line at their organization. Additionally, nearly half of organizations plan to expand their service line offerings overall.”
However, all of this growth doesn’t come without its fair share of growing pains or challenges, according to Valley.
“Over half of organizations indicated that ‘finding and hiring qualified staff’ is one of their organization’s greatest issues,” he says. “I don’t think this issue is unique to the home health agency environment either; because it is a general trend in healthcare at large, it almost magnifies the issue in some sense. The competition for qualified workers just gets that much harder when you are competing with a number of different verticals, especially when an organization is looking to build out its specialized care offerings and might be seeking out clinicians who focus on a specific disease state.”
The impact that telehealth is currently having on the home health agency environment is noticeable, according to Valley.
“I think deep down I had an assumption that there was a degree of implementation occurring, but seeing those numbers trended against implementation rates from other verticals [inpatient versus outpatient] we see the data spike in appropriate areas such as remote patient monitoring and medication management,” he says. “But we also see a lot of similarities in the other types of technologies being used as well. I actually think the bigger finding in regard to the telehealth is the planned expansion for home health agency organizations, we are seeing that within two years the telehealth service line will more than double, with nearly half of respondents indicating they will offer telehealth services.”