Home health services have become the fastest growing industry in America, and it’s easy to understand why. Over the next 15 years, the entire Baby Boomer generation will pass the age of 65. When that happens, there will be nearly 84 million seniors living in America, nearly one-fifth of our national population. And with an aging population inevitably comes an increasing demand for healthcare, which is why the industry is expected to grow a massive 8% over the next four years.
The Challenges of Success
But success brings its own challenges. In the case of home healthcare, this means an increasing greater difficulty in finding quality caregivers. In fact, there is already a growing shortage of nurses, physicians, support staff, and other practitioners all across the industry. While the number of home healthcare workers has already tripled over the past 25 years, this is still far from sufficient to meet demand.
Consequently, home care agencies have been forced into a fierce competition to hire the most qualified caregivers. With the availability of qualified caregivers spread so thin, this has made it critical for home care providers to have flexible staff management to prevent fatigue, to find the appropriate balance of permanent and temporary clinicians, and to have excellent staff planning to ensure constant support.
Because prices in the healthcare industry are mostly set by private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, selecting between providers is rarely a matter of choosing the most affordable price. To the contrary, it’s about selecting based on a reputation for quality care. As the number of qualified care providers grows increasingly scarce, it’s that reputation which distinguishes between first-rate care and unexceptional alternatives.
A Bright Future
One reason to be optimistic about the future of home healthcare is because it’s anticipated to contain the growing cost of care. This is partially due to the increased compliance associated with home care, and partially due to a reduction in the number of emergency room visits and hospitalizations needed by those who have caregivers at home.
According to Medicaid, home healthcare services are also less costly than inpatient facilities. That’s part of the reason why Medicare is soon to add value-based reimbursements to help facilitate more home healthcare options, which will reward the care providers who are able to successfully improve patient outcomes.
The Need for Care
It’s become common in America for younger family members to take care of their elders, but as our population ages, the ratio of family members needing care to possible caregivers is getting worse. In 2006, nearly a quarter of Americans provided care for someone over the age of 50, and that was before the Baby Boomer generation had even begun to retire.
America is about to undergo a drastic increase in demand for home care. For seniors, that’s great news. Most seniors want to live in their home as long as possible, for their comfort, their family, and for their independence. And with the growth of the home healthcare industry, millions of seniors will gain access to the assistance they need and deserve.