While home care providers are working to mitigate headwinds – such as the rising cost of delivering care and staffing challenges – they also have their eye on where the industry goes from here.
As 2024 approaches, home care leaders are embracing AI, alternative payer sources, employee-centric solutions and much more.
Home Health Care News heard from nine home care industry leaders, who shared their views on the biggest trends, challenges and opportunities that will define home care in 2024 and beyond. Some also noted where their organizations’ efforts will be focused next year.
The home care market continues to expand due to growth in an aging population, increased prevalence of chronic conditions, and a continued consumer preference for the comfort and familiarity of home over institutions. While elder care is growing more quickly, I predict in the next 2-3 years, we will see an increase in home care utilization among a more diverse group of demographics — mainly helping support those with chronic conditions.
In 2024, I expect to see continued advancement in the integration of health care and home care fueled by technology and data collection. Remote monitoring for vitals and fall risks will help provide a more complete picture of patient health. Patient touch points will expand, furthering the collection of patient data. Increased capacity for predictive modeling through AI will empower home care leaders to enhance service offerings to improve the quality of care, patient health, comfort and independence.
Home care companies positioned to provide an integrated and individualized care plan leveraging new technologies will see the most significant consumer interest and build revenues through enhanced partnerships with referral sources.
— Emma Dickison, CEO and President at Home Helpers
Due to the increased cost of private-pay home care and economic uncertainty around a recession, we believe 2024 will be marked by shorter length of stay than we saw pre-pandemic. Like 2023, this will be driven by consumers delaying the start of care and/or ending services in favor of more cost-effective options such as family-provided care. This may be a challenging time for some operators, especially those without a mature sales funnel.
Outside of scaled operators, which are the minority in private-pay home care, M&A may continue to be slightly challenging for sellers. There may be less buyers for the average home care agency than in years past, meaning fewer LOI’s and softer offers. While Family Tree Private Care is still an active buyer, we expect that challenging debt markets in the first half of 2024 will compress most buyers’ ability to finance deals or support a purchase price that the average seller has come to expect.
These challenges, we believe, bring opportunity for any high-quality agency with strong referrals to survive uncertainty, but more importantly to capitalize on rebounding demand driven by positive consumer sentiment and willingness to spend as early as the second half of 2024.
— Daniel Gottschalk, Co‑CEO of Family Tree Private Care
Balancing the need for appropriate home care regulations while preventing overregulation is crucial for the industry. Baseline regulations that set forth good business practices to keep clients and caregivers safe are essential. Now, each state licenses private-duty home care, but if nationwide licensure is implemented it would create basic, minimum standards and would also give the industry more recognition as a legitimate player in the health care continuum.
It’s important that the home care industry supports fair and achievable licensing standards to prevent states from implementing overly burdensome regulations. This will also create a trusting relationship with regulators and show that everyone has the same goals — the best quality of, and access to, care. Appropriate regulations also help maintain the public’s trust in the industry.
Excessive regulations can stifle growth and innovation, create distrust by home care companies, and impose excessive operational and financial costs, which will ultimately have a negative impact on clients and caregivers. For example, excessive paperwork, reporting, and documentation demands diverting resources away from direct client care, increasing administrative burdens and the cost of care for clients.
I look forward to the future when each state’s private duty home care license is consistent nationwide.
— Neal Kursban, CEO of Family & Nursing Care
The industry can anticipate a rise in instant pay options for caregivers, such as platforms like Daily Pay or Tapcheck. Moreover, social media-like applications for interacting with caregivers and employees, such as CoachUp Care, are likely to gain prominence, ensuring seamless communication and coordination.
Recruiting caregivers will remain a significant challenge for home care agencies. Additionally, the industry will witness a shift towards dominance by big franchises and private equity-backed agencies, posing a threat to the competitiveness of independent agencies. Moreover, factors like inflation and recession will contribute to the growing cost of labor, leading to increased prices for services. This may make home care unaffordable for many seniors, potentially forcing them to consider less desirable alternatives like nursing homes.
The aging population, particularly the increasing number of baby boomers, presents a substantial opportunity for the home care sector. As this segment continues to age, the demand for home care services will surge, creating a significant market for providers who can cater to the unique needs of this demographic.
In summary, the home care and senior care industry in 2024 will witness a shifting landscape defined by emerging trends such as instant pay options and social media-like applications, alongside challenges in recruiting, industry consolidation, and affordability. However, the growing market of aging individuals presents an opportunity for providers to tailor services to meet the rising demand. Adaptation and innovation will be key for players in the industry to navigate and thrive amidst these defining trends, challenges and opportunities.
— Qiana James, CEO and Founder of Friendly Faces Senior Care
Home care in 2024 will experience another year of rapid demand and increasing complexities. Competition among home care agencies will intensify, leading to higher levels of innovation. Businesses will need to navigate the changing market using adaptive strategies, market differentiation and strategic partnerships. Businesses will set themselves apart by proactively addressing today’s community health challenges.
There will be a rise in businesses employing people-first strategies ranging from employee-centric solutions to person-centered care plans. Success will be further defined by a business’ ability to demonstrate positive health outcomes, employee satisfaction and community partnering.
The need for home care workers will continue to vastly outpace the workforce. Because of that, home care agencies, community members and our government must – and will – work together on solutions for sustainability. I see sustainability coming from health promoting strategies. My vision extends to a world where health independence serves as a strategic prescription for prosperity and enduring well-being for generations to come.
— Sara Wilson, President and CEO of Home Assist Health
The rising cost of care is a trend I see most prevalent in the home care space and an area personal care providers need to prioritize in order to prevent challenges for their operations in 2024. Margin compression and reductions in reimbursement rates along with current unfavorable macroeconomic conditions for consumers means providers must find strategic ways to drive efficiency, reduce costs, and deliver quality care and successful patient outcomes. To address these challenges, home care and personal care providers will need to continue investing in processes to strengthen and streamline their operations while reducing costs without compromising the quality of their services. I expect a continued trend of centralization of functions to achieve scale that can support a business case for the adaptation of automation and eventual AI augmentation.
In 2023, my network initiated the development of multi-unit operating models that leverage the centralization and scaling of functions, which were piloted across our BrightStar-owned agencies. We have already had success introducing automation into the revenue cycle with robotic process automation that dramatically decreases the amount of human intervention in recurring administrative functions including payroll, billing, and revenue-cycle-management optimization.
— Shelly Sun, CEO and Founder of BrightStar Care
As we approach 2024, Executive Home Care is poised to address the evolving landscape of home care, focusing on market differentiation, employee satisfaction, community partnerships, and data-driven insights. In an increasingly competitive market, consumers demand transparency and excellence in home care. They seek compelling reasons to trust providers with the care of their loved ones. This necessitates a clear articulation of our community commitments and unique service offerings. At the same time, the challenge of staffing shortages underscores the importance of fostering a work environment where caregivers feel valued and supported, a crucial factor in attracting and retaining talent.
Beyond basic referral networks, we are strengthening community partnerships through clear and effective communication, aligning our goals with those of our partners to enhance care quality. Additionally, our strategy heavily relies on data analytics. By analyzing client and caregiver data, along with key business metrics, we can swiftly address care needs and manage specific conditions such as Alzheimer’s and COPD. This not only improves our responsiveness, but also cements our position as specialists in senior care. These focused efforts in 2024 will ensure that we continue to provide exceptional care and support to seniors and their families.
— Kevin Porter, Brand President of Executive Home Care
The biggest trend affecting not only the home care industry, but nearly every industry, is artificial intelligence.
There are a range of ways AI can be applied to caregiver recruitment and retention. From writing job postings, to chatting initially with applicants, to scheduling interviews, AI can eliminate several time-consuming steps in the hiring process. Once onboarded, AI can drive ongoing caregiver engagement to measure job satisfaction, provide rewards, give recognition, and even assign training.
Similarly, AI-enabled CRM technology can improve client acquisition and retention. In the home, AI powered passive monitoring technologies can help keep our clients safe, even if we aren’t present. The power of applying predictive analytics to client data captured by both caregivers and AI technology can warn us of fall risk, provide early detection of urinary tract infections, give medication reminders, and more. This can reduce avoidable rehospitalization and keep our clients healthy in the home longer.
AI technologies are changing and improving faster than we can implement and will impact the future of home care indefinitely.
— Michael Slupecki, CEO of Griswold
The biggest opportunities in 2024 that will define home care will be around alternative government payer programs that now exist in home care. Home care has established itself as a positive impact to health outcomes when it comes to the cost of health care for our seniors.
Whether it is VA, Medicare Advantage, or Medicaid, there are significant upside to these programs for home care. In addition, there are several Medicaid specialty programs that are worth evaluating in markets across the country. To maximize these opportunities, home care providers need to focus on data that supports these better health outcomes. This data will go a long way in separating these providers from their competitors when these payers review their best partners to work with in their markets. Also, this data will help these providers get the best reimbursement rates, because you are lowering the total cost of care.