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Trending at HLTH 2021: Home as the Access Point for Equitable Care

Wrapping up today in Boston, the HLTH 2021 conference was much more than just another trade show: organizers described it as a one-of-a-kind health innovation even, bringing together leaders from across the care continuum to ask one question: how do we create the future of health?

Not surprisingly, much of that conversation focused on bringing care to the patient’s door – and inside the home.

“From primary care to chronic condition management to acute care settings, we are growing tech-enabled services, moving care into the home, expanding wellness initiatives and pushing further into value-based care,” cited HLTH directors.

Core to many of those conversations was the acknowledgment of a lack of parity in terms of accessibility, with a focus on vulnerable populations. One of the most promising components of telehealth is its ability to provide quality care in a ubiquitous way, across social and economic stratums.

And yet, through the lens of the pandemic timeframe, many of the HLTH sessions highlighted the ongoing disparity in access: from the challenges of older adults with barriers to technology to lower-income people without access to technology.

“The patient’s home is an increasingly important site of care across acute and chronic conditions, while being a more convenient and lower-cost access point than alternatives,” was the subject of one session. “More than 76% of adults 50+ prefer to receive care at home, yet only 42% of adults 65+ have access to broadband internet. How are we closing gaps in access to care? How can the industry leverage AI, RPM and predictive analytics to support home care delivery models to keep our population home and healthy?”

Research

According a study from the American Hospital Association (AHA) task force, Ensuring Access to Quality Health Care in Vulnerable Communities, virtual care strategies would allow vulnerable communities, particularly those that have difficulty recruiting or retaining an adequate health care workforce, the opportunity to maintain or supplement access to health care services. Their study reported that telehealth, videoconferencing, remote monitoring, electronic consults, and wireless communications served to expand patient access to health care services and provide a wide range of benefits.

The implementation of more accessible care in the home for vulnerable populations was also the topic of a recent episode of the Vital Insights podcast series, where we had an in-depth conversation with Sid Kandan, founder and CEO of Stel Life, Inc.

Through the lens of a recent client case study, he was proud to share more about the unique challenges healthcare providers faced around the integration of new technologies within vulnerable patient populations – and how they were able to help them during the COVID-19 pandemic with the transmission of more than 1 million vital signs from vulnerable elderly, low-income, and rural patient populations.

As CEO of Stel, Sid likes to imagine technology as one of the silver bullets that can increase access to quality care while decreasing costs across the healthcare system.

“I think the future of patient care is a simpler world where we’ll have new forms of digital health that work with a slew of sensors in the home and allow us to collect data from patients that are dealing with complex health and home conditions,” he said. “These are populations we haven’t historically been able to get complete data from, and so haven’t been able to offer the level of care we want to. A more robust picture will allow us to address gaps in care and provide them with a better quality, lower cost alternative.”

You can tune in to his podcast to find out more.