WASHINGTON (April 2, 2020)—As hospitals nationwide continue to struggle with unprecedented demand for critical services related to the COVID-19 pandemic, home health care providers are well-prepared to help alleviate the growing strain on the system by caring for patients in the home, according to a new report from the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH). 

“Our dedicated providers are ready to relieve some of the mounting pressure in hospitals and emergency rooms across the country,” said Joanne Cunningham, executive director of PQHH. “Our workforce is skilled, trained and prepared to offer essential care for Americans in the safety of their homes—hopefully clearing inpatient settings for the sickest patients.”

A report released today outlines how lawmakers can rapidly eliminate barriers to home health care and allow for a nationwide response from agencies and providers to care for patients as a looming rise in cases mounts in the coming weeks. Doing so, home health leaders say, will help hospitals and facilities alleviate overall capacity issues and help prevent the spread of the virus to the overall community—especially our most vulnerable population: the frail and elderly.

While the need for already-stretched hospital resources is not expected to peak, in many states, for another two to three weeks, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, it is imperative to prepare for the escalation of impacted patients. In the face of this unprecedented surge, home health care agencies are uniquely qualified to provide much needed relief to the nation’s health care system by:

  • Caring for patients with chronic illnesses or post-acute challenges, who are well enough to be discharged from inpatient care but still require close monitoring and ongoing care—especially to help avoid rehospitalizations, which will only exacerbate the pressure on the system.
  • Treating confirmed COVID-19 patients who no longer require inpatient care, and those whose symptoms are manageable at home with close monitoring and care delivered by a skilled clinician. 
  • Addressing the health care needs of patients under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19.

“Doctors and hospitals need our help now; there is no time to waste,” said William Dombi, President of NAHC. “As our report details, in order to ensure we can provide care to as many patients as quickly as possible, home health providers are asking for payment for telehealth services to reach more patients, access to more PPE and an abbreviated authorization and eligibility process to swiftly transition lower acuity patients to the home setting to reduce the burden to hospitals and nursing homes.”

To view the full report, which outlines current home health care processes and changes needed to rapidly address the COVID-19 pandemic, download here