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News Roundup: August 12, 2013

FDA Clears Verizon Wireless Device for Home Health Use

Published by Home Health Care News
Jason Oliva
August 7, 2013

Verizon Wireless recently received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a mobile device intended for home health usage.

Approved as a Class II medical device, the Verizon Wireless Converged Health Management Device (CHM) is a remote monitoring software solution that collects and stores biometric data from other physiological devices, allowing such health information to be transmitted to a secured remote server, very much like other telehealth devices.

The stored information, which can be accessed by clinicians for analysis and intervention, can also be reviewed by patients, allowing them to receive educational and motivational content from clinicians.

The CHM device is designed specifically for use in the home, as the FDA Class II 501(k) summary explicitly states that the device is not intended for use in surgical rooms, intensive care units, intermediate or step-down units, or in emergency vehicles.

The 501(k) summary also notes that the device may be used in conjunction with several other supported patient monitoring devices, such as Ideal Life Inc.’s Blood Pressure Cuff and Glucose Monitor Model.

AARP Stresses Home Care In Message to Long Term Care Lawmakers

Published by Home Health Care News
Elizabeth Ecker
August 5, 2013

The future of long term care will rely heavily on home- and community-based services, says AARP in a recent message to lawmakers. Speaking to members of the Commission on Long-Term Care, which met last week for the second of three hearings before preparing a September report to Congress, AARP stressed the need for action that supports services delivered in communities and homes.

The organization issued a statement Friday to the Commission, urging it to act soon.

The hearing was held last week in preparation for a September deadline by which the commission is tasked with creating a report with recommendations for the future of long term care in the U.S.

The commission has asked for an extension, although it has not yet been granted by Congress.

“The Commission has a little over a month to vote on recommendations and the three hearings to date highlight the importance of expanding consumer choice of quality care options, increasing access to home and community-based services that would allow more people to stay in their homes and communities, and bolstering support for family caregivers,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond.

AARP urged swift movement by the commission, with pressing long term care challenges facing the nation in its current state.

AARP hopes the Commission will use the short time it has left to offer real guidance to Congress on addressing the many challenges surrounding long-term care,” LeaMond said. “This is an opportunity to jump-start a national conversation that brings individuals, families, policymakers, businesses and other LTSS stakeholders together to pursue real change.”

Home Healthcare Leads Sector, Creates 3,900 New Jobs in July

Published by Home Health Care News
Elizabeth Ecker
August 5, 2013

Among healthcare employers, home health boasted the greatest number of new jobs created in July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Counting 162,000 jobs added in total across the U.S., the home healthcare sector added 3,900 of those jobs. This compares with 300 new jobs created in the nursing and residential care facilities care segment, or a loss of 4,400 jobs among hospitals during the same time period.

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare pointed to the potential negative impact on the industry of a rebasing rule proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in late June. The rule proposes rebasing home healthcare by 14% over four years, which, PQHH notes, would lead to negative margins in some areas of the country.

“The home health community is urging CMS to conduct detailed multi-year analyses about the proposed rule’s impact on patients, rural communities, small businesses and our nation’s economic recovery and employment gains,” said Eric Berger, CEO of the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, following the jobs announcement. “Not only will further cuts impact the 3.5 million homebound seniors and disabled Americans who depend on the Medicare home health benefit, they will endanger jobs throughout the US.”

The sector is seen as a key driver of employment growth, the organization said.

“The home healthcare community has been a primary driver of job growth, as our nation’s elderly population continues to grow and in light of seniors’ overwhelming preference to receive the complex and chronic care they need in their own home,” PQHH writes.

NPR: Green House Care Model Gains Adoption Among Senior Population

Published by Home Health Care News
Elizabeth Ecker
July 30, 2013

With the cost of assisted living and nursing home out of reach for some, one solution has emerged that is gaining attention as an alternative that falls somewhere between institutionalized care for seniors and home care.

The “Green House Project,” is concept that now counts 148 residences across 24 states and offers a home-style approach to long term care.

Each residence houses no more than 12 older Americans, cared for by nursing assistants and others on side, reports NPR in a recent segment. Residents report higher levels of independence than in nursing home alternatives, with each having his or her own private room and path, and a shared common area for the kitchen and living areas.

The concept comes from Dr. Bill Thomas, NPR reports, who launched the idea in the 90s based on the “radical idea: Let’s abolish the nursing home.”

Now, with nearly 150 Green House Homes in the U.S. and another 150 in development, there are some metrics to show the success of the concept.

“…residents are happier and stay healthier longer,” NPR reports. “David Farrell, director of the Green House Project nationwide, explains that those private rooms aren’t a luxury — they’re safer than a traditional nursing home, where two or even three people might share a room and also share a bathroom with the two or three people in the room next door.”

In addition to reporting satisfaction, residents are also found to be more independent because of loose scheduling and greater mobility.

“Research also shows that Green House residents maintain their independence longer than residents of traditional nursing homes,” NPR says, “where hallways are long and schedules are tight.”