How HealthKeeperz Tackled Obstacles to Innovate

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By David

COVID-19 sent waves of destruction through every industry. And some have been slower to recover than others — not because of internal issues, but because supply chains are intricate machines. Once disrupted, getting all those moving pieces back to work is hard. This impacts every industry that relies on them, like home health care. But North Carolina-based home health caregivers HealthKeeperz managed to turn the challenges into opportunities to support its community.

“HealthKeeperz has truly evolved over the years,” President Tim Brooks told IdeaMensch. “Howard Brooks (my dad) started a community pharmacy in Pembroke, North Carolina, and expanded the services over the years. He essentially sought to meet the needs of the community and provide for his family. Thankfully, the community responded quite well.”

The Pandemic Shift 

Home care was critical to the health system before the pandemic, delivering access to people who couldn’t leave their homes. But during and after, it became a way to avoid hospitals and more expensive nursing home care. People have developed a growing expectation that they should have a home-based alternative. As a result, telehealth and home-based care demand grew. HealthKeeperz sees this shift as a great potential for positive change.

Says the HealthKeeperz website: “In a time when vulnerable populations are being encouraged to stay at home as much as possible to prevent COVID-19 exposure, the home health industry is proving to be a safer alternative to traditional methods of care. Hospitals are crowded, doctors are overworked, and tens of millions of surgeries have been postponed as a result of the pandemic.”

Growing Brings New Challenges

This shift doesn’t come without challenges. Supply chain issues are hard on businesses simply maintaining the status quo. In the growing home health care segment, those issues are amplified. The pandemic saw increased demand for personal protective equipment and certain medical devices.

How HealthKeeperz Adapted

HealthKeeperz focused on innovation and increasing the quality of service through a more integrated health system. By maintaining a concentration on customer satisfaction, the company was able to traverse the hardships to come out stronger on the other side.

It worked directly with doctors to support each patient’s personal wellness goals through highly personalized strategies that recognized the uniqueness of individual recovery paths. The company showed that patients who normally require expensive hospital or inpatient rehabilitation and care could rehabilitate in a home setting with the right systems.

And its leadership embraces hurdles. “I really enjoy thinking about the big problems facing the health care industry today,” says Brooks. “For instance, I’m thinking a lot about new health care structures that focus on access to care, cost of care, quality of care, and the experience of care (customer experience).

“Addressing these issues means health care leaders will have to leave the silos we’ve become so comfortable in and think more holistically about people and the care we want to provide. I see HealthKeeperz as a real tool to address these issues and drive real change in the home health space.”

Innovation Brings New Obstacles to Overcome

Supply Chain Issues

To overcome supply chain challenges, HealthKeeperz needed more effective systems to predict demand accurately. It worked to increase transparency, understanding of demand signals, and logistical flexibility. This allowed the company to boost resiliency when faced with shortages.

Payer Understanding Gap

Many home care providers hit an understanding gap when it comes to getting paid for the services they render. Often, third-party payers (such as insurance) don’t recognize that home health care enhances the services hospitals can provide to patients and can often make it more affordable at the same time.

Fortunately, health systems that can also be payers don’t have this lack of understanding. Partnering with health systems that value home health is changing perceptions and creating a better patient experience across the board.

Despite It All, Home Care Shines

There are reasons health systems are on board with and supportive of the expanding role of home care for their patients. Hospitals, inpatient rehab, and nursing homes are expensive, and often the patient spends the vast majority of their time not actively receiving care while paying for 24-hour just-in-case observation. Home care offers patients a smarter, affordable kind of care.

Comfort is another concern. Who wouldn’t prefer to recover at home where family and friends can easily visit and support them? Instead of strange hospital smells and cold, sterile walls, they enjoy the warmth and familiarity of home.

The quality of home care is the same — or better — than that received in a facility but without the added risk of hospital-borne infections and a greater likelihood of spending more time with loved ones.

What’s Next for Home Health?

Home health services are transforming how people see health care and proving that a personalized, home-based approach can work. As a result, the industry will grow, improving care affordability and the potential for better health outcomes.

Says Brooks, “​​HealthKeeperz employs nearly 200 incredibly talented and compassionate people who serve communities across North Carolina, and we continue to value and uphold our commitment to patients above all else.”