When it comes to population projections in the U.S., the popular phrase “silver tsunami” captures it best. The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there will be more adults over the age of 65 by the year 2035 than children (1) for the first time ever in U.S. history. That means about 1 in every 5 people will technically
be considered a “senior” within the next 20 years.

While this expanding “wave of gray” generates serious implications for many different industries, the healthcare sector is expected to see the greatest impact. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics already found that jobs in healthcare settings grew 20 percent between 2006 and 2016. To top that, home health services are projected to grow the faster than any other industry in the next ten years (2), averaging around 4.4 percent growth every year.

Home Health Growth

The aging population drives healthcare markets, especially home healthcare, in a handful of ways:

  • Home health services are often utilized when a patient has a chronic illness that requires in-home medical treatment, management, or testing. AARP reports that more than half of all older adults live with more than one chronic condition (3) and as rates of diseases like obesity and diabetes continue to climb, so does the market for home health services.
  • More and more seniors are looking to age in place and postpone transitioning to a nursing home or other healthcare facility. Advancements in medicine and medical device technology help extend a patient’s longevity and ability to remain in their home. Home health services prove to be a cost-effective solution for seniors, especially when compared to the rising expense of long-term care facilities.
  • A steep rise in the number of older adults with Alzheimer’s also influences the need for home healthcare. The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that someone develops this debilitating disease almost every 65 seconds (4) including 1 in 3 seniors over the age of 85. Adults 85 and older are the fastest growing population segment; in fact, their numbers are expected to double by the year 2036. (5)
  • As healthcare continues to transition from a fee-for-service approach to a value-based one, so is the consumer demand trending towards personalized, on-demand care services in the home. The way patients consumer health services will continue to evolve, as is evident by the advent of telemedicine. It’s unclear whether a broader range of services will be eligible under the home health umbrella, but one thing is for sure, patients are going to be asking for them.

How Can Home Health Service Providers Keep Up with Demand?

Finding enough skilled professionals to meet the home health demand continues to pose a mounting challenge to home health service providers. Home health agencies can take a handful of key steps to strengthen their workforce with top-level talent:

Utilize Technology

Embracing modernized ways of communicating, tracking quality metrics, and more efficiently managing care programs not only boosts patient satisfaction but will help home health agencies remain competitive to attract high-quality practitioners. Technologies may include telemonitoring of vital signs, safety alerts in the home that detect falls, and even senior social networks that track patient social engagement and behavior. (6)

Hire Travel Nurses

Home health services may find it difficult to onboard enough nurses and other skilled medical professionals to manage their patient load because there simply aren’t enough seeking employment in the area. That’s where travel nurses can help. Augmenting your team with top nursing talent from other cities or even other states helps home health agencies meet demand and maintain high-quality care.

Support Family Caregivers

When it comes to meeting the goals of patient-centered care, home health service providers will need the collaboration and support of family caregivers, and vice versa. Not only can strong relationships with family caregivers foster strong communication, they also empower home health workers to partner with caregivers and give them confidence, training, and education that benefits the patient’s overall care.

Additional Thoughts

While the market is primed to continue to rapidly increase in the next few decades, there are a handful of factors which could throw growth off course. Fluctuating healthcare policy and changing budgets means critical factors like reimbursement rates, eligibility guidelines, and insurance coverage are all up in the air.

Home Health RN Coverage

If you’re organization needs home health travel nurses or case managers, contact Health Carousel Travel Network today to speak with an account manager.

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1. United States Bureau Census, https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2018/comm/historic-first.html
2. United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2017/article/projections-overview-and-highlights-2016-26.htm
3. AARP, https://assets.aarp.org/rgcenter/health/beyond_50_hcr_conditions.pdf
4. Alzheimer’s Association, https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures
5. Sage Publishing, Journals, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1084822316666368
6. National Institute for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK315926/