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HIMSSCast: Home health challenges offset by creating patient and caregiver communities

One technology that's reduced both loneliness and hospitalizations has been the creation of an interactive TV studio.

Susan Morse, Executive Editor

Photo: Tetra/Getty Images

Homecare is facing challenges and none are new. Reimbursement rates from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are low, and staffing shortages are high, as is demand for home health services due to a rising elderly demographic.

Josh Klein, founder and CEO of Emerest, runs the home health service in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Missouri with plans to expand to other states in the near future. His mother was also in the business of providing care in the home.

The answer to keeping patient care quality high, Klein said, is to create patient communities and to make his employees, the caregivers, feel like they're a part of the healthcare ecosystem.

Emerest put tablets in every patient's home for two-way communication. Home health aides have a portal to relate messages. Patients have social engagement through a TV studio built by Emerest. Thousands of patients are sitting at home with a video camera, just like Zoom, and are interacting with the host in the studio and with each other, Klein said.

"It's had enormous success in reducing loneliness," Klein said. "We're able to create patient communities with the technology."

It's also reduced hospitalizations.

For more on Klein's perspective on home care, listen to his conversation with Susan Morse, executive editor of Healthcare Finance News.

Talking Points:

  • The U.S population is older today than it has ever been, according to, the Population Reference Bureau.
  • The number of Americans ages 65 and older is projected to increase from 58 million in 2022 to 82 million by 2050, a 47% increase.
  • CMS estimated that Medicare payments to home health agencies in 2024 would increase by 0.8% compared to 2023. As low as this is, it's better than the 2.2% decrease initially proposed.
  • It takes a special kind person to go into home health and it's a low-paying job.
  • There are no full-time jobs. Employees are paid hourly. Employees do get medical benefits.
  • Women and immigrants make up the majority of the workforce.
  • Retention is important because home health aides spend many hours with a patient and develop a connection.
  • Emerest implemented a perks program for employees to provide spa treatments.

More About this Episode:

Home health agencies protest 2023 proposed payment rate cuts

Home health agencies get less than a 1% payment increase

Regulators reviewing UnitedHealth's $3.7B Amedisys acquisition

CVS and Signify's $8 billion deal expected to close this week

Bridging gaps in post-acute care requires technology and interoperability

Email the writer: SMorse@himss.org