Why 2024 Will Be a Big Year for Care at Home
Healthcare is continuing to experience rapid shifts as we move into the new year, as several external factors have influenced care delivery. These include the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the growth of virtual care, skilled nursing facility closures and staffing constraints. Additionally, a continued focus on integrating value-based care into healthcare models is driving hospital systems and payers to ask challenging questions as they seek opportunities to build better care delivery and improved patient outcomes.
We saw the many ways in which Contessa’s Comprehensive Care at Home platform rose to those challenges in 2023, and going forward in 2024, we expect to see even more exciting developments in the field of advanced healthcare at home. All three of our service lines — Recovery Care at Home, Rehabilitation Care at Home and Palliative Care at Home — will continue to define healthcare in the United States, in 2024 more than ever.
Hospital at home momentum continues to build
In 2023, hospital at home was solidified as a valuable option for care delivery with the support of the omnibus package passed in 2022. We saw health systems move from curiosity to enthusiasm about not whether to adopt a hospital at home program, but how. As we move into 2024, continued momentum will influence how quickly hospitals want to start a new program, and how fast existing programs will want to expand. It’s reasonable to assume that both variables will pick up speed in the coming year.
For one, because clinical staffing continues to be a challenge in many regions, virtual care is a viable option to expand access to care. Health systems who leverage this approach in both urban and rural areas are seeing its advantages, and more health system senior and strategic leaders are inquiring about what a hospital at home program could look like for them and their future plans.
Additionally, we’re hopeful that Congress will enact a permanent program by the end of this year allowing for a continuation of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) acute hospital at home program, an extension of which was approved by Congress at the end of 2022. What specific parameters they will put on the program remains to be seen, but Contessa remains uniquely positioned to partner with CMS as needed and help our health system partners through the next stage of hospital at home in 2025, thanks to in-depth experience working with the waiver and the development of this approach to care.
Finally, another clear indicator of the continued growth and viability of these programs is increased interest at the state level as more states are inquiring about the feasibility of including Medicaid patients in hospital at home programs, a trend that is likely to continue in 2024.
Rehabilitation Care at Home could grab the spotlight
A nationwide decline in skilled nursing facility (SNF) capacity in the United States is continuing to impact health systems. As we’ve demonstrated in 2023, SNF replacement services at home are a strong option to offset capacity and financial challenges facing SNFs across the country.
The upcoming year will be an opportunity for Rehabilitation Care at Home to see increased utilization by health systems, payers and SNFs as a solution to these concerning capacity restraints. Along with strong healthcare outcomes, this model of care at home decreases healthcare fragmentation and helps patients safely age in place, which is increasingly important to an ever-aging patient population.
Palliative Care at Home is positioned for even more rapid growth
As we saw in 2023 with our risk-based palliative care model, palliative care is experiencing rapid growth due to its success in achieving improved outcomes for health systems, payers and patients. With Palliative Care at Home, we’ve seen successful integration of technology for improved symptom management, caregiver support and enhanced communication between healthcare providers and patients. In 2024, we expect to see even greater use of telehealth technologies to provide consultations, monitor symptoms, and offer support remotely – especially considering the importance of accessibility and convenience for patients.
These benefits of virtual and in-home palliative care will usher in continued expansion of palliative care services beyond traditional settings, with more focus on providing support in patients’ homes and within their communities. Our successful partnership with a large regional payer reinforces this trend, and we expect to see more payers and health systems looking to adopt Palliative Care at Home in the upcoming year to stay on the leading edge of healthcare delivery.
To meet this goal, 2024 is also likely to see increased participation in value-based and shared savings/risk-based financial models of palliative care. This may include an increase in the number of states that implement Medicaid waivers to test and apply innovative payment and service delivery models for palliative care, positioning Palliative Care at Home for even greater growth.
We’re also likely to see this trend drive continued efforts to advance research in palliative care, along with increased educational incentives and initiatives for healthcare professionals to enhance their skills in delivering high-quality palliative care.
An exciting time for delivering comprehensive care at home
Altogether, these exciting trends represent the potential for a huge year of positive developments and growth in care delivery at home. We’ve seen many innovations since launching our first hospital-level care at home program in 2016, and 2024 promises to be a year of continued innovation and leadership. Ready to learn more about a partnership with Contessa? We’re here to help. Contact us today!