A move to homecare has been on the horizon for many years, but COVID-19 acted as a catalyst, turning predictions into priorities. The pandemic rationalized the immediate need to focus on homecare by major industry players: pharmaceutical companies, drug-delivery companies, providers, payers and—for the first time—patients themselves began to demand at-home alternatives.
Patients were hesitant to go to the hospital both for fear of contracting COVID-19, and, since hospitals had limited noncritical services due to patient overload, the demand for in-home care options reached an all-time high. According to the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, the demand for homecare workers increased by 125% in February 2021.
Two years into the pandemic, we now know that we can provide quality care in the home, yet staffing shortages still pose a challenge. In order to ensure that patients can receive the care they need where they need and want it (e.g., at home), providers must adopt the right technologies that reduce reliance on homecare workers themselves, enabling care teams to effectively manage larger patient caseloads without compromising quality care and patient safety.
For providers to properly transition care to the home, it is imperative that hospital-grade technologies, which have been in development for many years and conform to critical safety regulations, become more patient-centric for independent use in the home. The challenge lies not only in creating technology suited for home use, but in allowing that technology to be operated by the patient and/or caregiver.
To achieve this, the complexity of the user interface in such technologies should be reduced. This calls for medical devices to be made user friendly, including the addition of features such as touch screens, simplified use protocols, drug-specific devices and safety-embedded software, such as drug libraries and pre-set programming.
Applying the appropriate human factor, the usability of medical devices has become a crucial mandate from the Food & Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies, with the goal of helping reduce errors and enabling the use of devices by nonclinical personnel, such as family members or patients themselves.