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Research suggests receiving healthcare at home is a key factor in achieving the best patient health outcomes. It’s also less costly to provide than traditional care in skilled nursing facilities or acute care. This combination of better patient care and lower costs has led many health systems to invest in home care businesses.
Health systems and their patients have unique needs. As the market continues to grow, it’s important to understand the implications for the health system supply chain, and how it can flex to best support home care delivery models. At a recent supply chain leadership forum at the 2017 AHRMM conference in Washington D.C., many supply chain executives in the room were just beginning to explore how their processes could change to accommodate the rise in home-based care.
The number of people age 65 years or older is set to double to 98 million by 2060, with life expectancy for this demographic group steadily increasing since the 1970s.1
As they age, the Baby Boomer generation is shaping the extended care marketplace with more and more preferring to age in a home environment for as long as possible. Even today, 80% of elderly people who receive assistance live in private homes, not in skilled nursing facilities or assisted living – and this number will only grow as the elderly population increases.
Getting organized around home care supply chain now can set health systems up for success as this care setting continues to grow. Several innovative distribution models can help, including patient home delivery, patient-specific bulk ordering and clinician trunk bins.
Patients receiving care in their homes need the correct supplies, whether they are managing chronic health condition or recovering from a procedure. Treatment may be delayed or not completed effectively if the patient is required to gather their own supplies. Relying on a home health nurse or aide to bring products with them is inefficient and takes time that could be better spent caring for patients. With patient home delivery, the patient will receive care with products vetted and chosen by the system, and the convenience of having those products delivered to their door.
A good patient home delivery offering requires a different model from the usual acute and non-acute supply chain. Patients need next-day delivery in discreet packaging so they can quickly get what they need, avoiding exposure of sensitive medical information during delivery. Items must also ship in low units of measure for a single patient’s use, avoiding unnecessary waste and spend.
Managing these quick deliveries for many patients at home can strain delivery resources. But partnering with a distributor with expertise in home health can:
If home health clinicians are bringing supplies with them on patient visits, patient-specific bulk can help simplify the process. The warehouse receives complete orders that are individually packed, sorted and labeled by patient, saving clinician time and reducing overall cost of care. Many distributors can clearly label orders by clinician and patient name to streamline the process of receiving products and sending them out for patient care.
Even with patient-specific bulk, clinicians need to interrupt their day to pick up supplies, and may not be prepared for last-minute new patients or unplanned visits. With a trunk bin model, each clinician carries a plastic bin in their vehicle containing the supplies they need for all their patients – basically, a supply closet right in their trunk. Bins can be customized for different specialties, like pediatrics or hospice. Replenishing bin contents can be done easily at the patient’s bedside with a smartphone and mobile ordering platform.
And remember, however a home health supply chain is structured, the same formulary rules used in acute and non-acute sites can be carried through to a system’s home care sites as well. To help, rules management systems designed for home health agencies can be used to set up and manage formularies, utilization and financial rules, limit product purchases to an approved formulary and manage supply costs. These features can help health systems avoid over-utilization of products and monitor clinical compliance and outcomes to facilitate quality care.
For our post-acute care customers, our own Clinical Resource Team is ready to help with the challenges you encounter every day, such as training, clinical tools, consultation and product selection. Our engaged and experienced clinicians are just a phone call away.
Contact our Clinical Resource Team at 1-877-611-0081.
1: Health Industry Distributors Association. 2016 Extended Care Market Report. September 2016.