It’s a new year, which means many of us are thinking about what’s ahead in 2023 for the healthcare industry. One thing is clear: The future of post-acute care relies on finding new, innovative ways to provide effective care in different, less expensive settings.

Much of our focus in pursuing that goal has been on the shift to home. It’s no secret that consumers prefer to receive care at home, and providers and payers are building and supporting more health-at-home models of care, including telehealth, hospital-at-home, SNF-at-home and home-based primary care services. These programs are already proving to be instrumental in helping organizations lower costs and improve outcomes, particularly for people with chronic conditions.

So we know healthcare at home is here to stay. But what will it take to realize its full potential and ensure its success? To answer that, these three components are essential:

Harness the power of data and artificial intelligence

Analytics tools have been around for years to help providers run their businesses and track patient histories. But only looking backward is no way to create a care plan. Now, more providers are benefiting from an availably of predictive analytics to help us see into the future and make better care decisions.  

Predictive analytics can surface relevant and actionable insights from patient data to determine what type of care is needed — both medical and nonmedical — to improve health outcomes. These insights can uncover real-time patient hospitalization risk, social determinants of health, and utilization management for improved care planning. Building these capabilities into workflows gives caregivers real time information and the tools they need to make decisions at the most critical moments to ensure patients get the right care in the right setting (which is often the home).    

Additionally, as healthcare continues to shift from fee-for-service payment models to value-based care, it is increasingly important for providers to improve care quality and outcomes while keeping costs to a minimum. Predictive analytics offers providers a competitive edge, with the supportive data needed to proactively manage their patient populations as they transition between acute and post-acute settings and effectively allocate resources for a more sustainable care delivery model.

Tap into a connected post-acute care network

When care takes place outside of a hospital, coordination becomes much more critical. The patient is no longer in a facility that has constant monitoring or specialists on site. Patients who are going home may need follow-up services like physical therapy, infusion, meal delivery, and more. How do we ensure they get the care they need? That’s where technology comes in.  

Connecting acute, post-acute, and social service providers using technology is the best way to remove barriers to care — whether that’s coordinating and directing patients to the resources they need or using data to understand trends. Technology can streamline these processes and connect stakeholders to develop care plans that address all aspects of a person’s well-being, including physical and mental health and social needs like access to food or assistance with everyday activities of living like bathing or dressing.

A network that connects medical, nonmedical, and social services providers helps to ensure patients don’t fall through the cracks, reduces hospital readmissions, and decreases healthcare costs.

Put patients in the driver’s seat

Too often, patients feel like bystanders in their own care. We know that keeping patients informed and involved in their treatment plans results in the best care. But that’s easier said than done, particularly for patients who are managing chronic conditions and receiving care from multiple providers.

Patient engagement technology can alleviate confusion and ensure patients and their families don’t feel alone. These AI-driven tools empower patients and their families to easily share their symptoms and other pertinent information in real time, enabling their caregivers to deploy the appropriate interventions.

Collaboration is critical as more people receive care at home. Technology that weaves together the entire care team and gives all stakeholders visibility into a patient’s care — and then provides the tools to actually impact that course of care — is key to supporting better healthcare at home.

Ultimately, we need to make sure patients are receiving care in the most appropriate setting given their health status and needs. More and more, that setting is the home. By implementing these three steps, we can make great strides in improving outcomes and lowering costs.

Bill Miller is CEO of healthcare technology company WellSky.