A few weeks ago, we at ClearCare were very excited to announce a groundbreaking research project with two incredible partners: Harvard Medical School and Right At Home. Our research project aims to determine whether existing home care technology paired with a simple intervention strategy will reduce hospitalizations, improve overall health, and reduce healthcare costs for seniors. The importance and potential impact of this research cannot be underestimated. As a backdrop, we are witnessing the largest demographic shift in human history. In the very near future, our aging population of seniors will represent the global majority of citizens across the developed world.
Just stop and think about that for a second.
This demographic shift is going to hit our frail healthcare system like a tsunami. Over the next two decades, there will be a relentless expansion of seniors leaning on our healthcare apparatus, entering Medicare in droves, and ultimately forcing a profound and inevitable change in the manner by which we deliver care.
Let’s remember that the first wave of Boomers is currently 69 years old, and Boomers, to their credit, have often flexed their collective muscle for social change: from longer maternity leaves to childcare tax credits. And now, as Boomers demand to age-in-place, we will undoubtedly see a fundamental challenge to the way that we deliver care. And it’s my hope that this study with Harvard Medical School and one of ClearCare’s closest partners, Right At Home, will play a part in effecting that much needed change.
My personal goal for this research project is to prove – beyond a doubt – that care provided by home care agencies compresses the cost of healthcare for seniors; improves health outcomes and quality of life; and reduces the stress on our already over-taxed healthcare system. Most of our agency partners know this to be true, and we want to prove it with hard data developed to world class standards that will pass muster with top medical journals and any critical eye.
It’s a pretty lofty goal, for sure. But home care agencies – as the lowest cost healthcare institutions serving the world’s highest cost healthcare population – can and will transform care for seniors. And I am confident that the data from this research will prove it!
It’s also important to note that the kind of care we’re researching with Harvard Medical School and Right at Home can only be provided by a home care business. An individual caregiver operating outside of the oversight, technology and operational infrastructure of an agency simply doesn't have the tools necessary to deliver the same level of benefits to seniors and their loved ones. Sometimes it seems like regulators and even families and seniors don’t fully appreciate the vital necessity of the local care management and coordination provided by agencies – and I want this research to build on the corpus of proof showing how home care agencies – and the local care management that agencies provide – are critical to our healthcare ecosystem and to better aging.
But, while I am super excited about participating in this research project and driving transformational change in the healthcare industry at large, I sometimes forget how personal the business of home care truly is. I was reminded of this fact just last week.
Last Monday a Right At Home agency owner dropped me a note, praising ClearCare’s newly implemented “change in condition” escalation procedure. You see, as part of the research effort with Harvard and Right at Home, we implemented a series of escalation triggers for caregivers to detect and to note a change in condition of a senior. Well, one of those triggers alerted an agency owner to intervene. The owner was able to orchestrate the home health nurse to tend to the issue, which avoided a costly and ultimately unnecessary trip to the hospital. I was both humbled and proud at the same time. I mean, just imagine if you were caring for your parents, and the owner of the local home care agency called with this news: “Hey, we just wanted you to know that your Mom is doing fine. We noted a change in her condition; caught the issue very early; and we were already able to get it addressed. She’s doing great.” Imagine the relief. Imagine the peace of mind.
These stories remind me of the personal and powerful impact of home care agencies.
To me and to all of us at ClearCare, our home care agency partners are heroes in the lives of seniors and their families – and we feel privileged to tell that story in ways big and small – through rigorous academic research like we’re doing with Harvard and Right at Home and though stories of seniors and families. At the end of the day, the business of home care is personal, and it’s about enabling home care heroes to orchestrate caregivers, to provide oversight on a local community level, and to deliver breathtaking care for the people who we love.