*PHI: U.S. Home Care Workers
What’s the Impact?
A significant care gap is emerging. The greater demand for home care services, and a labor force that’s experiencing little growth is resulting in a short supply of caregivers to provide home care services. Furthermore, the matter of quality of care becomes more important than ever.
If that wasn’t enough, two additional factors are ramping up the demand for home caregivers:
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA)
In 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which put in place comprehensive health insurance reforms that put consumers back in charge of their health care. Ever since the U.S. Supreme Court declared the ACA constitutional, healthcare organizations have been scrambling to recreate their business models. Now that incentives are centered on keeping patients out of the hospital, rather than maintaining capacity, organizations are being forced to run much leaner, and much more cost effectively than ever before.
Furthermore, the ACA has caused a surge in the number of individuals and families seeking adequate healthcare coverage. While this has helped to provide health insurance to previously uninsured Americans, it has also emphasized the growing health care workforce shortage and created somewhat of an overburdened healthcare system.
- Minimum Wage Increase
At the start of 2017, minimum wages increased in 19 states, a shift that will lift pay for millions of individuals. According to the Economic Policy Institute, about 4.3 million low-wage workers across the nation are slated to receive a raise. Though the federal minimum is supposed to rise with inflation the last significant change was in 2009, when it was set at $7.25 an hour. Thus, the shortage of home health care workers is being blamed on wages that have driven some providers out of the industry. Take Wisconsin, for example:
A survey conducted by the Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations shows that 95 percent of individuals needing home health care have a hard time finding workers. The survey also showed that 1 in 5 people are thinking about moving out of their home and into a nursing facility because of the workforce crisis.
Alternative Ways to Cut Cost & Meet Demand
Many home health providers have begun to feel immense pressure to reduce operating costs, and as such, have turned to alternative staffing strategies and independent caregiver management software to reduce operating costs and match service capacity with patient needs.
Independent caregiver management software allows home care companies to:
- Remove the burdens of back-office administration and accelerate onboarding and processing related to pay with real-time verifications.
- Capture all contractual and compliance documentation in an automated, web-based environment with the ability to create custom enrollment workflows that can accommodate a variety of complex compliance requirements.
- Tracks back and forth communication in an audit trail, and captures the final negotiated rate safeguarding both parties from any ‘hearsay’ issues related to the agreement.
Additionally, as the workforce shortage continues to become more prominent, independent caregivers can offer home care organizations with supplemental resources. Not only will this provide additional support, but it will allow organizations to help ‘fill the gap’ in relation to the workforce shortage, and alleviate a great deal of the operational burdens faced by today’s providers.