If you want to talk to someone who is bullish about the future of hospital-at-home, speak to Bill Miller.

The CEO of tech firm WellSky sees nothing but, excuse the pun, blue skies for the model that allows hospitals to deliver acute care services in the home. And there are several reasons for such optimism, as he explained to me this week. Demographics are one, consumer choice is another.

“There’s a certain amount of inevitability that more care will move to the home in spite of everyone’s efforts. It’s logical,” he said, noting that most consumers prefer to recover at home, die at home and get out of the hospital as soon as they can.

And it’s not just consumers pushing the trend. Payers want it too, as in most instances home care is less expensive, he said. In fact, the real currents pushing home care in the last 10 years have been consumer choice and value-based care, he said. The pandemic served as an accelerant, as it revealed the capacity problem of hospitals.

In tandem with these forces, technology is maturing at a pace that is supporting and bolstering hospital-at-home. That technology includes coordination among caregivers, communication with payers and providers and tracking information. 

“It’s a trend that is picking up more momentum than it ever has before,” said Miller whose firm has a major presence in home care and offers healthcare software, analytics and services across post-acute care.

But one question remains: Who exactly is doing hospital-at-home now? It’s not your average agency, correct? To that he responded it’s still early in the ballgame. But he had some strong language for those looking the other way.

“If the mom-and-pops are not thinking about it … they will probably be acquired,” he said.

He noted that with advanced concepts like hospital-at-home, typically there are the innovative early adopters — 15% of the marketplace. Most of the class follows suit. Some 10% will stay behind.

He pointed out that as it continues to expand there will be some natural protectionism for hospitals that don’t want to damage their core businesses. Still, the time is ripe for growth of this model, he said.

“The industry is consolidating at breakneck pace. The amount of capital is coming in like we haven’t seen it before,” he said.

In other words, hang on home care providers. Change is coming.

Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at [email protected].