Homeward Bound: The Rise of Home Health Nursing
HealthMarch 07, 2018

Homeward bound: The rise of home health nursing

What's  behind this recent surge in demand for home healthcare?

Did you know that home health nursing is now ranked as one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S.?

In a recent study, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) declared that the compound annual growth rate for home healthcare services from 2014 to 2024 would be nearly 5%, the highest among all industries. That means 760,400 new jobs, coming in a wide range of health care professionals, particularly registered nurses, but also physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nursing aides, a variety of therapists and other allied practitioners, and many clinical management roles.

So what’s behind this recent surge in demand for home healthcare?

A major contributor to the increased demand for home health care is the rising age of the American population. As both life expectancy and the occurrence of chronic disease increase in the U.S., there are more people living with chronic conditions and advanced age that need care, but want to be able to maintain their usual routine in their own home. Government initiatives and advancements in technology have also contributed to the rise in demand for home health care.

Meeting workforce challenges

As home health care grows, so does the demand for home health nurses. Home health care agencies will be competing for quality practitioners with numerous other healthcare industries, including many well-established enterprises. The competition for RNs, who are needed to perform specific clinical functions, will be particularly high.

Overcoming workforce challenges starts with staff planning, which is vital to meeting patient demand. Staff planning is very important in a rapidly growing, increasingly challenging industry such as home health care.

Staff planning in home health care should include flexibility to fill gaps, such as the time it takes to recruit and onboard permanent hires. That will require a mix of permanent and temporary clinicians, including travel nurses and allied professionals.

Technological solutions

The home health care industry is driven by many of the same pressures that are increasing demand throughout health care. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) calls for improvements in quality of care, population health, and cost containment. Home health care is an important answer to these challenges. It can result in greater patient satisfaction, greater patient compliance with treatment, and more proactive care, all of which improve care quality.

Technology is improving and growing right along with the demand for home health care. Nurses need additional solutions to help keep up with the shift. One example is computer software that provides nurses with access to evidence-based information related to care, drug information and patient education, all tailored for care in the home. Mobile solutions like this help nurses and other clinicians to assess competency, assign skills, and evaluate performance to improve care.

Home health care can bring diagnostics, treatment and prevention to the patient, rather than passively waiting for the patient to enter a doctor’s office or clinic, which is important to improving population health.

Telehealth holds great promise in providing accessible quality healthcare in the home setting. Telehealth applications are expanding to focus on the care needs of the population of patients with chronic health conditions residing in remote areas.  Expanded informatics applications for complex home care are developing along with telehealth care plans focused on resolving complex care issues.

Providing care in a patient's house may also be an answer to rising costs in the medical industry. Receiving treatment at home rather than at a trained nursing facility after surgery, for example, can have a large effect on the cost of care, saving the patient a significant amount of money.

The shift from treatment to proactive monitoring in care, combined with technological advances means many more options for care providers and patients.

If you're a home health nurse, comment on this post and tell us how many years you have been practicing home health care.

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