Home health care is opening the door to better outcomes and simpler member experiences

In some cases, “there’s no place like home” for receiving health care: How better outcomes and simpler member experiences can come from home health care.

Home health care isn’t new. Employees who are unable to travel or who are too far from a site of care have long relied on traveling nurses or other health care professionals to check their vitals and administer medication at home. 

But, for the wider public, the movement of health care into the home was accelerated by the pandemic. Whether it was providers making video calls to assess their patients or patients self-administering COVID-19 tests, home health care became increasingly common — and people developed an appetite for it.

In looking at the data further, 97% of supply chain decision-makers noted an increased demand for at-home diagnostic kits,1 which explains why the at-home testing industry is projected to be worth more than $2B in 2025.2 Plus, virtual health care visits — which accounted for nearly 70% of all visits in April 20203 — are now in a period of refinement, with most researchers agreeing that virtual health is here to stay as the global telehealth industry is projected to grow from nearly $142B in 2023 to $504B by 2030.4  

Offering simpler experiences

Nearly 2 in 5 employees work full-time from home or in a hybrid model, according to a 2023 survey.5 With a sizeable portion of the workforce doing their jobs from home, it just makes sense to orient certain parts of health care at the home as well.

Home health care can eliminate drive times to appointments or waiting room stays, which can lead to less absenteeism and increased productivity at work — all while also making it easier for employees to access care for themselves and dependents in their care.6

And home health care now encompasses much more than making house calls. Home health care refers to a range of health care services that can be delivered within the comfort of an employee’s home, including:

  • Prescription medication delivery
  • Home testing kits
  • Virtual visits with providers
  • Remote monitoring
  • Integrations with smart home capabilities

All these health services work to make health care more convenient for employees — but it’s not just about convenience, it’s also about cost.

Home health care can deliver more cost-efficient care. At UnitedHealthcare, eligible employees in fully insured plans pay $0 for 24/7 Virtual Visits. Optum Home Delivery of prescriptions can also help with medication adherence and was found to be 17% less expensive than picking up prescriptions at retail stores.7

Driving better health outcomes

Upwards of 80% of U.S. counties lack adequate access to services required to maintain health,8 so widening access to care through home health care options may help enable better health outcomes.

Consider the youth behavioral health epidemic. Employees without adequate access to behavioral health providers may not know where to turn if their children are struggling with substance use, anxiety, depression or suicide ideation. Home health care options may be able to bridge the gap, giving employees with internet access the ability to schedule virtual visits with behavioral health providers or coaches.

For employees living in rural areas of the country or those who lack adequate transportation, pharmacies may be difficult to reach. The ability to receive prescriptions via mail may make a difference in an employee’s health, especially considering that nonadherence can result in poor outcomes.9  

Plus, when employees don’t have to wait in hospital waiting rooms, they may also avoid being exposed to secondary, hospital-acquired infections.

Investing in the future

The idea of health care from the home is only going to become more pronounced, especially as home health care may be a more cost-effective and convenient way to receive care and can expand access to care for those with social determinants of health (SDOH) challenges.

UnitedHealth Group — the parent company of UnitedHealthcare and Optum — continues to make strategic investments in the home health care space, with the aim of helping access efficient and effective care to those at home. In fact, it’s predicted that 10% of the home health care market will be driven by investments and initiatives led by Optum.10

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