In 2020, the number of individuals over 60 surpassed the number of children under five for the first time in historyas lifespans increase to over 70 in many countries. In the US, people live longer, with an average life expectancy of 77.8 years in 2020predicted to increase to 85.6 by 2060. As of 2020, 56 million US people were ages 65 or older, expected to increase to 84 million people by 2040.
Chronic conditions are already prevalent in the US, with more than 85% of seniors over 65 having at least one chronic condition. At the same time, nearly half of all US people have at least one chronic condition, and 30 million people have five or more. The likelihood of developing chronic conditions only increases with age, making chronic care management a significant portion of the nation’s healthcare expenditures. 84% of healthcare costs are estimated to be directly related to chronic care management, which will only increase with diagnosed patients. 99% of Medicare spending goes towards chronic care management.
Seniors have already expressed their preference for home health care, with 90% reporting that they wish to stay at home as they age. Increased technology makes this possible, ensuring that patients receive hospital-quality care in the comfort of their own homes. Skilled home health providers enable patients to receive therapies and treatments at home, in addition to services that help them with daily activities.
The myth that often persists with home care is that it caters to younger, generally healthier patients. However, this is untrue, with patients over 85 accounting for one-fourth of home health visits while they only account for slightly more than one-tenth of the total Medicare population. In addition, nearly half of all home health patients have five or more chronic conditions, while this population makes up less than one-quarter of all Medicare beneficiaries. With the demand anticipated to continue, the home health industry is expected to reach $225 billion by 2024, more than double its market value in 20164.
These demands can be met by the evolving hospital-at-home model, for which CMS expanded flexibilities in late 2020. Hospital at home programs have already seen success across the country, so this expansion will only serve to improve the availability and affordability of these home health services. The program requires healthcare providers to screen patients for medical and non-medical factors and conduct an in-person evaluation before beginning home health care. In addition, remote patient monitoring will also be a significant component of home healthcare, enabling providers to monitor for changes in vitals or symptoms that may indicate worsening conditions.
Home healthcare helps to achieve two goals: improving patient outcomes while reducing the cost of care. Studies have shown that at-home care is, on average, less expensive than traditional care at a skilled nursing facility. In addition, patients benefit from lower rates of readmissions and other hospitalizations. Fewer patients in emergency departments and fewer admitted to the hospital will increase the capacity and ability of physicians to treat higher-acuity ED presentations.
By making home health care widely available, patients with chronic conditions can receive quality care in the comfort of their homes and benefit from improved patient outcomes. This will be especially valuable as the number of patients with chronic conditions continues to rise, reducing the burden it would place on healthcare systems. Instead, patients get to remain home longer while still accessing the care they need to enjoy their senior lives.