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What challenges exist to providing high-quality, community-based care?

User Category: TechnologyOn: October 22, 2012

Today's guest post is from Rob McClenahan, Social Media Specialist for Right at Home Inc According to the Administration on Aging, the aging population is expected to more than double from about 35 million seniors age 65-years-old or older in the year 2005 to more than 72 million by the year 2030. The rapid growth of the senior home care industry is challenging the ability of care providers to offer a high quality of care at the community level. In the current recessionary economy, budgetary constraints cause care providers to face the uphill challenge of accommodating larger patient caseloads with fewer human resources.  Seniors themselves now encounter mounting financial difficulties paying for care, as an increasing number of senior citizens live on Social Security and fixed income. The pressures to provide patients’ with a state-of-the-art care experience and remain profitable are enormous. The end result can be unintentional in nature, but hospitals, hospices and nursing facilities need revenue to remain profitable.  The same revenue principle applies to home care companies needing to provide care services to clients; and assisted living and retirement communities needing to provide care services to residents to remain competitive against industry competition. A contagious trend, often referred to as “silos” can develop in each community, where the continuum of care becomes fragmented. Each care provider in the ecosystem becomes focused on operating revenue more than the total care needs of patients. In essence, silos develop for several reasons with care providers becoming centered on profitability in a competitive industry.  But a resolution-- returning to patient-centered care-- is possible. Improving collaboration among providers Community-based care providers who form stakeholder coalitions or engage in frequent dialogue sessions can strengthen the quality of care provided to patients along the care continuum from hospital to home.  Where there is collaboration, the healthcare ecosystem can work towards improving the total care experience.  Cooperation and knowledge sharing facilitate care transitions at all intervals. Care coordination and technology Care coordination and stakeholder collaboration can also be strengthened throughout continuums in each community with innovative technology.  Through the use of digital care monitoring and digital health records, care providers including hospitals and community-based providers can better understand the needs of each care recipient and manage care received across the continuum. Tracking and monitoring patients’ conditions remotely helps reduce hospital stays, lowering costs, improving quality of life and extending home stay. Encouraging the adoption of technology can be advantageous for community care providers to develop responsive care strategies to improve care. Because technology improves communication between providers, the greatest benefit is improving the quality of patient-centered care. In essence, the winner throughout the cohesiveness of the continuum ecosystem is each care recipient.   Rob McClenahan is a Social Media Specialist for Right at Home Inc., an international leader in the senior home care industry. Right at Home Inc’s group on LinkedIn, Home Care and Healthcare Advocacy, is the largest home care company group on LinkedIn.