Primary Care Matters
Our nation has spent decades building and refining the health care system we know today. However, a shift is taking place – highlighting a great need for and opportunity to provide home-based primary care (HBPC). Why is HBPC important and why does it matter in today’s health care environment?
- There’s a population in need
About 4 million vulnerable adults in the United States have difficulty obtaining or are completely unable to access office-based primary care because they are frail, chronically-ill, functionally limited and/or homebound. These overlooked patients are the most costly in our health system. When in need, they often turn to emergency services for medical help but have no continuous, follow-up care. This continues a cycle of poor health management and high expenses. What’s more, this population of largely homebound patients is expected to grow dramatically as our society ages.
- There’s an opportunity to meet demand
There is a clear need for HBPC services among our nation’s growing frail and/or homebound population. However, supply of home-based care is not keeping up with demand. Medicare data from 2012 and 2013 shows there were just over 1000 providers who performed 500 or more medical care home visits. This is clearly not enough to provide adequate care to the approximate 2 million completely homebound Americans and over 1.5 million nursing home patients in the U.S. In fact, only 11.9% of completely homebound individuals reported receiving any primary care services in the home.
- There’s real cost savings with HBPC
The HBPC model is not a traditional one. But it offers tremendous opportunity to save costs in the long term. Research has shown that HBPC dramatically reduces costly emergency department visits and hospital readmissions. It encourages accountable care organizations to improve coordination and quality of patient care, making them more effective. And it replaces expensive nursing home services while boosting patient satisfaction.