Nothing shows the value of home health like a pandemic

The reason RxLive was formed was because we knew the power, convenience and privacy of telehealth — specifically in our case, comprehensive medication management. But as we observe November as national Home Health Care & Hospice Month, I’m reminded of just how extremely valuable home health services are…especially in a pandemic situation such as we’re now dealing with.

Home care includes a range of medical, social, assistive and other services provided in an individual’s home when a person needs follow‐up care after a hospital visit or requires long-term care. These comprehensive services are provided by nurses, therapists, pharmacists, home health aides and other direct‐care staff under the direction of a physician’s order. The focus of these patient‐centered services includes prevention, recuperation, and/or an alternative to higher‐cost institutional care that would otherwise be provided in a hospital or nursing facility.

Home health has always had its importance — ease of transportation, especially for seniors or others who don’t necessarily drive often (if at all), convenience, time-saving, and the lack of other hassles. In recent years, it’s particularly been embraced due to a combination of things:

  • Financial reimbursement has improved, especially for services to Medicare patients, making it more viable for physician practices and patients to embrace it…while reducing overcrowding in office waiting rooms
  • Improvements of technology — such as greater availability and usage of high-speed internet, web video chats and at-home computer capabilities that make many home health services such as ours more possible and personable
  • And, of course, in a pandemic such as COVID-19, an increased safety factor coming into contact with persons outside of patients’ homes unless it’s essential to do so.

Now with winter coming on, telehealth is of additional value, saving people across great parts of the country from having to navigate snowy and/or icy roads. It also diminishes the potential for colds, flu, pneumonia or other common conditions as well as of course COVID-19, all which can diminish patients’ best-possible health and potentially put them in danger. (PS…Have you received your flu shot, especially for those 65 and up who should generally receive the higher-dose flu vaccine. In most cases, it’s free or VERY low-cost. Along with full Medicare Advantage coverage, a colleague received a $10 gift card from his grocery-store pharmacy for getting it there!)

Expanding (and thus improving) the delivery of healthcare while optimizing the work of in-office staff and, ultimately, patient outcomes, is why we established RxLive in the first place. The body of medical knowledge is now growing so fast that it’s brought us to this era of extreme medical specialization. That includes clinical pharmacists, who spend years doing a deep dive into medications, the impact of a patient’s genetics, the impact of over-the-counter medicines and supplements, food’s potential consequences, and the many other factors that play an important role in a patient’s health.

The clinical pharmacy staff of RxLive are proud to be an extension of many physicians and their in-office staff. We salute the many thousands of nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, aides and others who come together to improve patient health while minimizing the potential dangers of traveling outside the home to optimize their health…and, hopefully, save some money along the way.

Kristen Engelen, PharmD
Kristen Engelen, PharmD, is the chief pharmacy officer of RxLive and a certified consultant pharmacist; she has over a decade of experience in retail pharmacy settings. Kristen became an RxLive co-founder because of her passion for geriatric pharmacy, with a focus on the intersection of pharmacy and aging.