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“The Invisible Homebound” How can care improve at home?

Around 4 million Americans have chronic illnesses and disabilities that make it difficult—if not impossible—for them to leave their homes, even for medical care. They are an often forgotten group, one that typically cycles in and out of hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, and a costly one as well.

Researchers, Bruce Leff and Christine Ritchie, coauthored a recent Health Affairs study (Jan. 2015) supported by The Commonwealth Fund.

Here are a few highlights and a compelling question if you, or someone you love, gets most of their medical care at home.

  • Medicare spends $18 billion on skilled home health services, which include nursing and various therapies provided by licensed agencies on an episodic basis for patients recuperating from surgery or a recent hospitalization.
  • There was a 150% increase in home-based medical visits between 2006 and 2013, however home-based medical practices don’t have enough guidelines to ensure that these special needs patients are getting all of the quality care that they need in isolation at home.
  • Practitioners who provide primary or palliative care at home face a complicated balancing act. Their focus may not be to cure patients, but to improve or maintain their quality of life without doing harm.
  • Although more healthcare organizations are moving to using a team of people to care for patients at home (doctors, nurses, therapists, etc.), current care practices do not take into account the true complexity of conditions patients face at home.

Source: “Treating the “Invisible Homebound”: Setting Standards for Health Care Provided at Home.” The Commonwealth Fund. Naomi Freundlich & Christopher Hollander. Jan. 30, 2015.

What can you do? If you, or a loved one, receive most of your medical care at home because it is difficult to go to the doctor’s office or other facility for care, answer this question below in the comments.

How could your care at home be better? 

About @susanharkema

Susan is the creator of MyHealthVoice.com, built upon her 20+ years in healthcare and her experiences as a caregiver and patient. She is a writer, speaker and advocate for people living with chronic or life limiting illness as well as their family and professional caregivers. Learn more - www.myhealthvoice/susanharkema/.

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