In the News: Sept 8–15

Vulnerable Populations Face Home Health Care Barriers

A recent Healthcare Finance article discusses a new assessment that found that between October 2015 and September 2016, only 54% of Medicare patients referred to home health care services following a hospitalization actually received home health visits.

Patients who were Black or Hispanic received these services at even lower rates than patients who were White; for example, only 46.1% of Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries received home health services compared to 55.3% of White patients. Similarly, patients who lived in high-poverty, high-unemployment zip codes also received services at low rates. These findings indicate all patients, especially those in vulnerable population groups, are likely to face significant barriers in accessing home health care.

Home health provides an alternative to institutional post-acute care (PAC) and is increasingly presented as a safer option amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, payer efforts to keep patients at home whenever possible require provider systems to not only rethink discharge planning but also position home health to play a bigger role in prehospital care. To learn action steps that organizations should pursue to prudently make use of PAC capacity to address ongoing waves of the COVID-19 outbreak, please read the Sg2 Expert Insight COVID-19 Action Steps: Optimizing Post-Acute Care Assets.

Culturally Competent Robots Can Improve Mental Health

A recent article from The IET discusses a UK study that found culturally competent robots can have a significant impact on the mental health of older adults. This is the largest study to date on the use of autonomous social robots for older adults in care settings.

Researchers developed an artificial intelligence–powered robot, called Pepper, that can accurately respond to culture-specific needs and preferences of older adults. Among this population, poor mental health and loneliness are significant health concerns, and Pepper aims to provide companionship to patients and residents in nursing homes. After 2 weeks, researchers found improvements in mental health and loneliness severity among the adults who used Pepper, which implies that this type of additional emotional and mental support in System of CARE post-acute settings can help relieve some of the pressure from the providers and systems.

The study has encouraged further use of socially and culturally competent robots in these care settings to benefit patients and alleviate the duress of an already strained care team, which will be extremely beneficial moving forward due to the prevalence and continued growth of psychiatry demand among the older adult population. To learn additional strategic recommendations to properly address mental health in older populations, read the Sg2 Expert Insight As the Population Ages, Geriatric Psychiatric Programs Fill Unmet Need.

COVID-19 Could Impede Progress in Reducing Child Mortality

A recent Fox News article highlighted the concern that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused health care service disruptions that could put current progress in reducing child mortality in jeopardy.

In 2019, the number of infant deaths fell to 5.2 million—its lowest point on record (infant deaths numbered 12.5 million in 1990)—due to health services that focus on preventing or treating issues like preterm births and birth complications, as well as illnesses such as pneumonia and malaria. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a disruption in health checkups, vaccinations, and pre- and postnatal care as resources are limited, some facilities are closed and many people are wary of utilizing health services because they are afraid of contracting the virus. A survey of 77 countries found 63% reported disruptions in prebirth care and 59% reported disruptions in postnatal care.

COVID-19 has had an impact across the entire health care landscape, including the pediatric System of CARE. Tune into Sg2’s Pediatrics Landscape 2020 webinar on September 23 to hear Sg2 experts feature highlights from the 2020 Impact of Change® forecast and discuss the evolving clinical landscape and redesigned care models that influence pediatrics care delivery.


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