No Place Like Home

Home healthcare may address a number of looming problems facing the medical industry

(RxWiki News) Home healthcare may be the answer to sustain healthcare systems threatened by rising costs and worker shortages.

According to a new RAND Corporation study, a vast array of healthcare stakeholders agree that expanding home-based health practices could give patients more freedom in managing their conditions and positively impact their health. However, a consensus between patients, healthcare providers, insurance companies and lawmakers would have to be met before plans could move forward.

A global study of six countries -- China, France, Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States -- looked at the needs, expectations and priorities regarding home healthcare among key stakeholders. Researchers interviewed government officials, regulators, providers, insurers, manufacturers, distributors and patient organizations and reviewed existing research about home healthcare.

"The aging of the world's population and fact that more diseases are treatable will create serious financial and manpower challenges for the world's healthcare systems," said Dr. Soeren Mattke, lead author of the study and a senior natural scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

Mattke said moving more healthcare into homes, where patients or family members can manage care, could provide a solution to these obstacles as the number of people living with chronic conditions and disability increases because of better treatments for many diseases. A shift to home healthcare could span basic diagnostic tools, such as glucose meters, to advanced telemedicine solutions.

Other obstacles the move might face, according to the study: restrictive insurance coverage, existing incentives for in-person homecare and limited patient readiness because of insufficient health literacy, among others.

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Review Date: 
December 8, 2010