Man comforts wife who's on bed holding water

Some 31% of patients and caregivers, respectively, blame each other when there is a delay in receiving home-based medical equipment. Another 59% of patients received unreliable or poor-quality medical supplies and equipment. Those are just two findings of a survey released Thursday by Tomorrow Health, a company that coordinates and delivers home-based products and services.

Vijay Kedar, founder and CEO of Tomorrow Health, puts the blame, in part, on the healthcare system, which fails to communicate and coordinate with unpaid family caregivers who deal with myriad challenges.

“Ultimately, patients and caregivers are blaming themselves and each other for these challenges and … we see the underlying fault of that with the core healthcare system in not appropriately engaging caregivers … or managing a transition from the hospital to the home or managing chronic conditions and not supporting the caregivers enough,” he told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse in an interview Thursday.

He added, “I think that the survey indicated really just a pretty widespread breath of confusion around managing more complex chronic conditions in a home-based setting.”

The survey queried a random sampling of 500 home-based adult patients and 500 paid and unpaid caregivers. The survey also found that 60% of caregivers had experienced delays or disruptions that kept their patients from receiving medical equipment or supplies, and 58% of caregivers said receiving unreliable or poor-quality medical supplies has negatively impacted either their lives or the lives of their patients.

The survey helps to reinforce some common problems that arise for caregivers, Kedar explained. These are: navigating payer requirements; identifying the right home-based care providers to serve clinical needs; coping with delays in the care that is delivered — from medical equipment and supplies to home health services; and dealing with a lack of engagement and visibility. Regarding the latter point, there often is a serious lack of communication in informing a caregiver about the patient’s discharge plan to help the patient avoid a rebound to the hospital, he said.

“Those are some of the specific problems that we see that underpin a lot of that more challenging burden, confusion and negative emotional impacts that we’re seeing caregivers face,” Kedar said.

Tomorrow Health’s solutions include working with health plans to streamline and simplify benefit designs; developing a proprietary database to measure the quality and efficiency of home-based care providers; and directing education and engagement to the caregiver, as opposed to the patient, which can lead to better adoption and clinical results.

All home care stakeholders — from home-based care providers to health systems — can benefit from the survey’s findings, he said.

“We have a unique dynamic now … with the overarching acceleration to aging in place and the important role that these paid and unpaid, but mostly unpaid, family caregivers can play in providing care,” he said. “So I think … it’s both our responsibility, but I think others’ responsibility to just learn as much as we can about the challenges that caregivers are facing and ultimately to bring solutions to bear on some of those.”