Understanding Patient Expectations for Home Health and Virtual Care

Patient Preferences
Generally, patients prefer home health care options as they would prefer to recover at home instead of in a hospital bed or busy healthcare setting as the home setting is more comfortable for one’s well-being and convenient for being able to return to one’s day-to-day schedule.  Leveraging patients’ preferences for the care setting is beneficial.  The Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation (AHHQI) contends that patients who are receiving care in their preferred location are more likely to adhere to care management plans, improving their overall health while preventing avoidable readmissions and costs.

Patient expectations in requesting and receiving home health care is evolving.  In Home Care Nursing: Surviving in an Ever-Changing Care Environment, Tina M. Marrelli highlights that “home care is the most unique practice setting because the nurse or other team member must fit into and function effectively in the patient space, and their most beloved place often times, rather than the patient fitting into the hospital or other setting.”  She points out that the visiting clinician or other team member must adapt and be flexible, changing the dynamic associated with more traditional healthcare settings. “Being in and on the patient’s turf makes it clear that we are guests in patient and family homes, and we must conduct ourselves differently as a result,” states Ms. Marrelli.

Patients are Partners in Care
The goal of home health care is to help patients get better, regain their independence, and become as self-sufficient as possible, according to Medicare.gov.  To best serve and support patients, home health clinicians are advised to see patients as partners in care with great influence on how and when the care is delivered.  Home health care is patient-centric by nature and must reflect – and respect – patient’s lifestyle, values and belief system, home environment, family/friend relationships, etc. 

To enhance patient progress at home, home health providers can use virtual care technology to check-in on the patient’s condition while also regularly educating the patient on his/her own role in self-care and managing one’s condition.  The technology platform also allows home health clinicians to include family caregivers in the ongoing communications and education in order to help patients recover and reduce the risk of readmission.   Patients are increasingly using technology and devices to manage or conduct other aspects of their life including shopping, finance, and social media.    Using technology to complement their home health care will be a good “fit” in helping these patients transition into self-efficacy and self-sufficiency in their own care.  

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