COVID-19 left a lot of devastation in its wake across many sectors. But like all tragedies, it sparked innovation and forced industries to look at what they were doing and what could be done better.
Looking back, many see this silver lining in the pandemic, HealthKeeperz among them. As a faith-based home health care organization, it was in a niche of its own when it came to better serving patients.
HealthKeeperz posted on its website, “Hospitals are crowded, doctors are overworked, and tens of millions of surgeries have been postponed as a result of the pandemic.
“Home health care has long been a viable alternative to nursing home placement and recurring doctor’s visits. But the pandemic is reinforcing its many benefits, particularly in times of crisis.”
How the Pandemic Impacted Home Health Care
The entire health care industry felt the pressure of COVID-19. Not only could health care workers not isolate themselves as so many other workers could, they were expected to work in facilities daily, directly, and fearlessly, caring for known COVID patients while trying not to spread the disease to others.
Limited personal protective equipment and pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions added to the chaos and difficulty that saw many understandably burn out.
In the midst of this, home health care exploded. Telehealth, which had previously struggled to gain legitimacy, was suddenly a viable option for doctors to stay connected to patients without requiring them to come into the lion’s den.
Other home care saw a similar rise, providing a workable alternative to facility care that allowed patients to stay home while still striving to meet their health goals. But it wasn’t without its challenges, especially in the early months of the pandemic. HealthKeeperz knew it had to focus on what’s best for patients to overcome the issues and learn better ways to deliver a home care experience.
It was, at times, an uphill battle to fight preconceived notions about home health care. “In the beginning, there was a great deal of fear about someone coming into the patient’s homes,” said HealthKeeperz President Tim Brooks. “We had patients tell our nurses and therapists, ‘We’d rather you not come,’ which is reasonable and I understand that. On the other side, hospitals are bombarded with patients and are asking for us to help get people home.”
How HealthKeeperz Approached Challenges Facing Home-Based Health Care
While the COVID-19 pandemic presented a host of issues like supply chain troubles and difficulty navigating payer health systems ill-equipped to deal with out-of-the-box solutions, every obstacle was met head-on by HealthKeeperz leadership.
“I love working with data and using it to answer the question, ‘What’s next?’” says Brooks. “If you know where to look, the data you have at your disposal can provide the answer to so many things. I also think change creates amazing opportunities for creativity. In short, for me, the ideation process includes data and thinking about how to solve problems people have.”
The Benefits of Home Health Care vs. Facility
Facility care will always be a necessary level of care. But as technology and systems progress, inpatient procedures become outpatient. Similarly, many nursing home, hospice, rehab, and post-op services can now be done in a home setting.
This saves patients money and tackles out-of-control health care costs. It allows patients to receive care in a more familiar and often supportive setting, surrounded by friends and family. And time and again, the industry has shown that the quality of care is the same or better in a home setting.
HealthKeeperz expects this trend toward significant home-based services to continue long after the pandemic becomes a distant memory. The company continues to look at new ways to improve patient experiences in this setting.
Says Brooks, “I believe that we can do well, and I believe that we have in the communities we serve that ultimately have an economic impact that will also impact families and health care.
“I believe that we can take this idea of flourishing, and the results will be huge. If at the end of my career, I look back and I can see that, I will be happy.”