It’s a new day. It’s a new dawn. However, what is coming from this day forward should be no surprise, but it certainly seems to be a surprise to many tasked with solving potential problems based on demographics. One would have to be secluded in a cave with no communication to not know that the demographic projections all point to an overwhelming number of older people, not only in the US, but globally. However, it seems that many in this country who legislate and regulate are not understanding the impact of this demographic shift. Just look at the move to reduce costs in home care as the need increases.
There are pockets, however, of light that the health care delivery system is starting to change in the way health care is delivered. Today’s headlines in Louisville’s Business First point to acceptance of telemedicine as a way to reduce costs and spread care to those who most need it in isolated areas. Kentucky is ahead of the curve! Recent press pointed to simple ways that smart phones can be used in healthcare, and there are daily reports of entrepreneurs looking for products and services to better meet the needs of an aging population.
One of the distressing trends, however, is the reaction of many businesses to the upcoming implementation of Obamacare. Two distressing actions are a) the recent labor Department ruling affecting overtime pay for home health aides and b) California’s legislature and its proposed legislation on adding the burden of a factory-type rule for in-home care workers. Another distressing trend is the move by many businesses to limit the hours of their lowest paid employees, so as to avoid having to offer health insurance to the uninsured.
So, what do the demographics tell us? Large numbers of older people will cause greater care needs. The ability of businesses to find staff to meet those care needs will be severely challenged by not only demographics, but also by legislation and regulation. We have to come up with new solutions for new problems. Telehealth is one of those solutions. Immigration reform is another. Wise counsel is needed for our leadership so that we are all working to solve our potential aging issues and concerns.
Join me in Phoenix next week at the Home Care Association of America annual conference for a lively and interactive session on the future of in-home care and how best to prepare for the inevitable: more people needing care, telehealth as one solution to stretch available coverage, ways to maintain a quality workforce, and suggestions on how best to communicate to those who a) need care, b) legislate on care issues, and c) regulate the industry.