Home Health Care is Crucial to Better Patient Outcomes and Our Healthcare System’s Future

Dr. David Schrier–Hospice Medical Director, Colorado Visiting Nurse Association

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has designated November as Home Care& Hospice Month – a time to honor millions of nurses, home care aides, therapists, and social workers who make a remarkable difference for the patients and families they serve. These heroic caregivers play a central role in our health care system and in homes across the nation.

I am taking this opportunity remind patients, physicians and other medical professionals involved in patient care outcomes that there is tremendous value in providing care in the home. Simply put, these full-spectrum services can improve patient outcomes in the least costly, and most often patient-preferred setting which equals a winning solution for everyone.

And, let’s face it – with the “silver tsunami” heading our way, there simply aren’t enough skilled nursing facilities to accommodate the rapidly growing population of aging patients who need long-term care, palliative care or hospice services. Home is going to be the long-term health care facility of the future.

Care provided by home health agencies includes skilled medical services, including chronic disease management; rehabilitative therapies to improve or stabilize the patient’s functional status; care coordination services and management of care transitions (especially from hospital to home); monitoring and management of behavioral health conditions; care that enables avoidance of unnecessary hospitalizations and re-hospitalizations; and support to patients and their family members to connect to community resources to enable and support independence.

There are, unfortunately, some common barriers to patients getting home care services when needed.
Most chronically-ill or elderly patients (and sometimes their physicians) have no idea that they qualify as being homebound and that insurance, in most cases, offer home health services benefits. To truly care for our patients, we physicians, need to do a much better job at helping our patients get the services they need and pay for.

In my opinion, skilled home care providers should be an extension of your healthcare team to ensure your patients’ safety and comfort and reduce hospitalizations, ultimately driving down healthcare costs for all consumers.

david-schrierDavid M. Schrier, MD is a practicing Hematologist & Oncologist in Englewood, CO. Dr. Schrier graduated from University of Colorado School of Medicine in 1990 and has been in practice for 25 years. He completed a residency at University of Colorado Health. Dr. Schrier also specializes in Internal Medicine. He currently practices at Swedish Medical Hospital’s Cancer Center.

In 2002, Dr. Schrier founded the Ray of Hope Cancer Foundationin memory of his patient, Ray. The foundation has given over $5 million in financial assistance to over 4,000 cancer patients in every corner of Colorado. In 2014 he received the Patients’ Choice Award and Compassionate Doctor Recognition