Technology & the Future-State of Home Health: Encompass Health’s Perspectives

Recently, Bud Langham (Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Encompass Health – Home Health and Hospice) shared his perspective on the future of home health and the role of technology in enhancing patient care:

How to Become More Patient-Centric with Multiple Touchpoints and Channels

  • “We’re going to meet them [our patients] where they are. That’s something that’s really important is that patient-centered approach to care. But to do that, you just got to understand what that patient wants and what their ability is to engage.”
  • “Having a multi-channel approach and trying to meet patients where they are is important.”
  • “In the pandemic we have seen some our patients even request, ‘Can we do this next encounter virtually?’ That’s been interesting. Acceptance and adoption of these technologies is changing… it’s improving.”
  • “Today, you need to have more of a multichannel approach and so we’re trying to be good stewards – of our resources, employees, patients and our time – to do it in a way that’s effective and not distracting from our core business of care.”

Why Data-driven Decisions Are Critical to the Timing and Delivery of Care

  • “The ability to provide more touchpoints to patients and react to data collected from patients that is more holistic than just a visit every couple of days is going to be a game changer.”
  • “RPM, telehealth, patient engagement technologies, along with predictive analytics and machine learning, are going to continue to become more and more part of the everyday process of care for home health and for hospice agencies. I think it’s inevitable.”
  • “We need the ability to graph data from a patient – consistently and frequently – instead of how home visits were done in the past when you collected vital signs every day or two and entered the data. That was really just a snapshot of a patient’s status at that time, during that day. The patient’s trajectory of illness changes pretty significantly. Patients decline and improve dramatically… sometimes on a daily basis.  And, without technology to help you collect data to recognize a decline, it is challenging to meet the needs of the healthcare environment we’re in today.”

How Home Health Care Is Evolving and Why Virtual Care is Essential

  • “Being able to see when someone is having a problem, being able to have more frequent touchpoints with them so maybe fewer in-person visits but more virtual connections, more data reviews, more touchpoints in terms of whatever channel they prefer, secure messaging, phone call, IVR, a virtual video-based visit… essentially whatever method of communication they prefer or their family prefers will allow us to be able to see when there is a problem or a visit is needed by exception. That is really important.  We think that is part of how home health services are going to change.”
  • “Instead of waiting for something to happen and then responding, our hope is that technology is going to help us get to a point where we can see events are about to happen and we can get out there with a nurse (or a therapist or the appropriate provider) and intervene to mitigate that problem. That’s going to help us keep patients out of the emergency room, keep patients out of the hospital, and that’s really, really, really important to home health providers today and going forward.”
  • “I think our responsibility as providers is to look for data driven, evidence-based approaches to care. Look for opportunities to implement them in ways that provide better outcomes for patients and families, efficiency for our agencies and ROI, and reduce the overall total cost of care. I think that’s my task, is to look for technologies and to look for innovation opportunities that drive better results and that make us more efficient, more effective, and reduce the overall cost of care to the Medicare system and to the other payers that we work with.”
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