In the United States, the home health care sector is booming. The sector has seen tremendous growth over the past decade and accounts for over $90 billion in gross output. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over five million people receive medical services from home health care personnel. With that growth, however, come numerous challenges; as patient populations increase, and medically high-risk patients seek home health care solutions, medication management has become extremely complex. In this guide, we’ll explore some of the challenges facing home health care aides and provide insights into the role of insurance for home health care providers.
Medication Management: Coordination and Communication
In the home health care model, numerous medical professionals, aides, and facilities must come together to deliver care for the patients that rely on these services. Because of the complexity of the relationship between these different players, coordination of care is a real challenge. This is especially true for high-risk patients with complex medication regimens. Communication between healthcare providers and medical facilities is often lacking, leading to medication mismanagement. In a study conducted by the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing, it was found that medication management coordination is fragmented at best, potentially leading to severe health complications in patients. Caregivers interviewed as a part of the study indicated several factors that impact communication; these include:
- Lack of trust between caregivers and patients.
- Lack of relationships/communication between providers, including healthcare facilities and office-based providers.
- Insufficient access to patient records.
- Lack of contact time between home health aides and their patients.
Because many high-risk patients live alone, there is not often a “safety net” — someone else who can monitor drug schedules and delivery when home health aides are not there — in terms of managing complex medication regimens. Patients may take the wrong drugs, the wrong dose, or fail to follow the right schedule. This can lead to severe health complications and even death.
Access to Patient Records is Critical
Among the many challenges home health aides face, access to critical patient records, or the lack thereof, stands out. Electronic health records (EHRs) have been adopted by providers and medical facilities around the world in an attempt to streamline care delivery. Unfortunately, the fragmented nature of the healthcare industry means that these records may not be compatible across systems. More importantly, home health care personnel may not have access to patient data. In another study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, it was found that about 60% of home health care personnel faced insufficient information in medical management, while 44% encountered problems related to poor patient records access.
Other studies have indicated serious discrepancies between medication regimens when comparing referring provider and home health care lists; in some cases, these discrepancies reached 90% or higher. This is indicative of a nationwide problem, and one that needs to be addressed to reduce the risks associated with care delivery. Unifying EHRs and ensuring access to this vital information across the healthcare delivery spectrum can minimize the impacts associated with medication mismanagement.
Insurance for Home Health Care Providers
Home health care providers and their parent organizations are duty-bound to deliver safe, accurate, and compassionate care to millions of patients across the United States. Owing to the complexities inherent in the healthcare industry, home health aides face substantial risks. Insurance for home health care providers offers valuable protection, and should be seen as the foundation of a comprehensive risk management plan. These insurance solutions typically include both general and professional liability coverages, and may also incorporate coverage for misconduct and care delivery errors. With this insurance, home health care aides, staffing agencies, and patients gain important protection against the legal claims and financial losses associated with medication errors.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 317.575.4440.