A common reason someone enters a nursing home setting is the frailty of old age. Elders are often at risk from falls, improper medication dosing, burns, or decline from poor self-care. However, forced placement in a nursing home often leads an elder to depression, anger, and increased confusion. Entering into an institution strips an elder’s independence, comfort of familiarity, and even identity. For those requiring around-the-clock nursing care who are younger, such as disabled veterans and multiple sclerosis sufferers, a nursing home setting may have a deeper impact on emotional well-being. One solution to alleviating the stress and emotional issues associated with nursing home placement is to offer routine in-home visits from health care providers.
As documented in the National Academies Press, home health care offers several advantages over institutional settings. One of the most important is the clinician-patient relationship forged in this patient-centered model. The individualized attention allows the care recipient to feel valued, while maintaining independence and dignity. The increase in emotional health tends to improve physical health, or at least slow the decline. Another factor is the early detection of a need for more critical care. If the home health care provider can temporarily escalate the level of care during times of illness or injury, the patient may avoid hospitalization. This approach not only maintains the care recipient’s comfort and safety but also avoids unnecessary costs.
Oftentimes an elderly or disabled person needs limited care and supervision, but because of mobility restraints, lack of transportation, or other factors the person is unable to make necessary visits to health care providers. Home health care is particularly fitting for these individuals. With the advent of technological advances such as video conferencing, smartphone health applications, and remote monitoring devices home health care is becoming their practical alternative to institutionalized care. Unfortunately, a large gap exists in third-party payer coverage preventing this alternative from becoming mainstream.
Regardless of the informal setting, national and local governments regulate home health care similar to other providers. For example, home health aides West Palm Beach FL fall under the jurisdiction of the local health care district. The district provides a strict standard of conduct, available in document form on its website, that covers topics such as expected levels of care quality, adherence to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) Act, and physician involvement. Much of the regulation focuses on the requirements of Medicaid and Medicare programs’ fraud, waste, and abuse policies. These policies deter and penalize acts of fraud against the reimbursement programs, such as providing falsified billing codes to increase the rate of reimbursement. It is important that these standards exists as Medicare or Medicaid often fund home health provision. Additionally, regulatory guidelines allow for the supervision of aides, nurses, and other care providers to prevent patient neglect, abuse, and exploitation.
With comprehensive regulations and technological innovations in place to facilitate increased and improved home health care, it is advantageous to stakeholders to pursue this option and encourage participation from third-party payers.