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News Roundup: September 23, 2013

Market for Home Health Tech to Reach $7 Billion by 2018

Published by Home Health Care News
Jason Olivia
September 16, 2013

Consumers’ desires to receive health care supports and services within their own homes, along with an large aging demographic, has led researchers to forecast a billion dollar market for elder care technology products in the next five years.

The global market for senior care tech products is expected to reach $3.2 billion come year’s end, and nearly $7.2 billion by 2018 as the market registers a compounded annual growth rate of 17.7% in that time frame, according to a report from BCC Research.

National health expenditures in the U.S. totaled has been the rise, with increases in spending attributable to an aging society, note researches in the “Technologies for Long-Term Care and Home Healthcare: Global Markets” report from BCC.

U.S. health expenditure totaled approximately $2.8 trillion in 2012, as compared to $2.5 trillion in 2010. But while 2013 is still underway, researchers believe this year will top previous years in terms of healthcare spending, especially as demographics look to play a significant role.

“In large part, these spending increments are attributable to an aging society,” writes the report. “Moreover, the amount spent on healthcare for older Americans is three to five times greater than the cost of care for someone under age 55.”

The report divides elder-care technologies into two groups of monitoring systems, for home telehealth and safety monitoring. Home telehealth is used to deliver care in an individual’s home ad includes the monitoring of physiological parameters and symptoms, whereas safety monitoring includes assist-call devices, medication management products and robotically enhanced mobility-assitance devices.

Older adults’ preferences to age in place was also found to contribute to a growing demand for healthcare tech to keep seniors healthy and in their homes, especially as family members worry for their elderly relatives safety living alone.

“Advances in communications and information technology have created products that make remote monitoring feasible,” writes the report. “Smart phones, personal digital assistants, and wireless networks are everywhere, including within seniors’ homes. These technologies carry both economic and emotional appeal to caregivers and the elderly.”

Health Matters: Keeping heart patients home

Published by WBBH-TV NBC 2
Amy Oshier
September 16, 2013

It may be the next best thing to being there. As more health care systems are experimenting with remote medicine, Lee Memorial Health System is being praised for its telehealth effort.

"Basically I think the significant thing is, it lets us know what we have done to keep people out of the hospital," says Cathy Brady, clinical manager with Lee Memorial Health System.

In particular when it comes to congestive heart failure. A growing problem in the U.S., it often leads to a revolving door of patient hospital stays.

"Readmission for heart failure nationally runs 25 to 30% within 30 days. Quite often we can identify reasons for readmissions such as inability or unwillingness to fill prescriptions, dietary issues or habits, eating large amount of food that could be high in sodium. Or alcohol consumption could be a problem," says Dr. Richard Chazal, cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.

Congestive heart failure occurs when the heart can't pump enough blood as it should. It affects nearly 6 million Americans and is the leading cause of hospitalization in people over 65. But studies show close monitoring is keeping heart patients home.

"There are so many things that are avoidable that people are going into the hospital for," says Brady.

Used for home health patients, remote monitoring boxes connect to telehealth. Patients conduct tests each day: stepping on a scale, checking blood pressure along with heart rate and oxygen levels. Results are reviewed by a nurse.

"We get so attached to some of these folks - you really do - because you talk to them frequently; if they're having problems and you're looking at them every single day. So we can keep an eye on them, if there's a problem we can catch it early," says Brady.

If a reading is off, the nurse will call the patient and has the option of scheduling a visit. The program yielded dramatic results and was presented as a model at a national conference.

As of March readmission rates were down to 8%, well below the national average. Meaning more people are happy and healthy in their own home.

When to Consider In-Home Care

Published by Wall Street Journal
Avery Forman
September 15, 2013

It might be easier than you think for you, or a loved one, to stay at home as you age.

Long-term care becomes necessary when people start struggling with tasks like bathing, dressing, getting around and taking medications—or with memory loss. Sometimes, food shopping becomes difficult, so older people don't eat right, and the problem spirals into a hospital visit should they become weak and contract a disease such as pneumonia.

"When is the 'Aha' moment? Is it after Mom leaves the stove on and the pot burns?" says Bob Bua, president of Genworth Financial's GNW -1.40% CareScout, a provider of support services for insurers and families.

Nine out of 10 Americans say they want to grow old at home and keep living in their communities as long as possible, according to AARP. Home-health providers are rushing in to meet the demand.

But there are things to consider when looking into care at home—including the number of limitations a person is struggling with, whether they have supports in the community and whether the home itself is suitable. New advances in home care are allowing more people to remain in their homes because of telehealth and apps designed to keep track of an elder person's medication compliance and comings and goings, says Steve Landers, chief executive of VNA Health Group, which provides home-health services.

Meanwhile, there are different types of at-home options to draw on. Maybe you need to see a doctor or nurse regularly, and these professionals do pay house calls. Personal-care assistants can help with nonmedical tasks like bathing. Assistance shopping, cooking or cleaning are also options.

One resource to help you get started is the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (nahc.org). Local resources vary and it can be helpful to also look into your area agency on aging.

The costs of home care are typically lower than in institutions such as nursing homes or assisted-living facilities. A private room in a nursing home averages $230 a day, or $82,800 a year, according to an annual survey of long-term care costs by insurer Genworth Financial. Average monthly rates in an assisted-living facility are $3,450, or $41,400 a year. A home-health aide costs an average of $19 an hour, or $30,326 based on a 30-hour week.

For many people, these prices will come out of pocket, however. Medicare typically pays for nursing and home care only when it's medically necessary and that doesn't tend to include personal care or round-the-clock services. Patients who are needing extra support at home or who are considering assisted living often look to long-term-care insurance to cover costs or pay privately. Medicaid, the state and federally run programs for the poor, more often covers nursing home and home-health assistance but it is important to check your state and individual eligibility.

Because of some of the economic realities, managed-care companies that contract with states to work with Medicaid patients are increasingly pushing patients toward home care. Programs include going into aging patients' homes and evaluating their condition, and contracting with home-health services and adult day care, according to the industry group America's Health Insurance Plans.

Health insurance company WellPoint, for instance, runs Medicaid long-term-care programs in seven states, and finds in general that for every individual it can care for in a nursing home, it can pay for three people to stay in their communities. It sends care coordinators and case workers into beneficiaries' homes for health assessments and asks them over 300 questions about their functioning. If the beneficiaries need it, the company can connect them with services they need to avoid admission to a nursing home. In some states, the company pays family members to provide the care.

Another managed-care provider, Molina Healthcare, has a new program in Florida to divert patients from nursing homes. "It's almost like a social call," says chief executive Mario Molina. "We notice the fridge light is out and we triage things."

But there are also risks and downsides to staying at home. Communities for older adults and nursing homes provide socialization that many in the geriatric community need. Older people home alone run the risk of a problem like slipping and falling—worsening their functioning rather than improving it.

What's more. the toll on adult-children caregivers when aging parents stay home is high. One study found that replacing unpaid care given by adult children would cost $450 billion a year, AARP says. If those caregivers aren't properly trained, the older person's health could be at risk.