In general, anyone entering a healthcare facility goes in with the goal of getting well and going home. Between staffing shortages, a rise in behavioral health diagnoses, (from 2008 to 2019, the number of serious mental health diagnoses rose among all adults age groups, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health), and a shortage of hospital beds, something has to change.
Behavioral home health services may be a crucial part of the solution. For those with behavioral health conditions and intellectual and developmental disabilities, the ability to stay in a familiar environment can have a positive effect on their eventual outcomes. Studies have shown that home care with at least one visit from a medical professional can reduce both the number and length of hospitalizations, in turn reducing costs.
The advantages of home care are many–some of the more beneficial aspects include:
- Personalized Care: Home health allows for personalized care plans tailored to each individual’s specific needs and challenges. Caregivers can adapt their approaches to suit unique circumstances and preferences.
- Improved Medication Adherence: Providers and remote technology can assist with medication management in a one-on-one environment at home, ensuring individuals take their prescribed medications on time and in the correct dosages. This helps in maintaining stability and preventing relapses.
- Enhanced Support System: Home health services often involve the inclusion of family members and caregivers in the care plan. This fosters a strong support system and helps loved ones better understand and assist in managing the individual’s behavioral health condition.
- Social Interaction: At home, individuals, with support from their caregivers, can better participate in social activities and interactions to combat isolation and loneliness, common challenges faced by individuals with behavioral health disorders.
- Lifestyle Management: Learning to care for themselves at home, individuals develop healthier habits and coping mechanisms to manage their condition effectively.
- Continuity of Care: With home health, individuals can receive consistent care and support, promoting long-term stability and improvement in their behavioral health.
As the world progresses towards a more consumer-centric approach to healthcare, empowering individuals to take control of their own treatment, adhere to medication regimens, and manage their health at home has become a critical focus.
Understanding Independence in the Context of Behavioral Health
Having a sustainable at-home health model requires promoting independence among individuals, enabling them to take control of their own treatment, including the ability to manage their medications independently. However, independence is a challenging and nuanced concept, especially when it comes to pharmacy services for individuals with complex conditions.
Independence surrounding medication means providing the necessary support and resources to help individuals take their medications on a daily basis without constant reliance on others. Sending someone out into the world to navigate the pharmacy system alone may not be feasible for people facing severe mental illnesses, intellectual developmental disabilities, or substance use disorders. Even seemingly simple tasks, like arranging transportation to the pharmacy or covering a small copay, can become significant hurdles. In the realm of behavioral health, these challenges can profoundly impact their ability to manage their health effectively.
For example, some people might claim that they are taking their prescribed medications regularly when, in reality, they are struggling to access them consistently. The complexities of mental health conditions can lead to circumstances where individuals forget to take their medications or decide not to take them at all, possibly due to cognitive impairments, financial constraints, or transportation difficulties.
All of this means that in the case of behavioral health clients, true independence looks more like setting scaffolding for support. These individuals are sometimes ready to live on their own, get to the grocery store and look for employment, but need additional measures when it comes to medication adherence. If they can use adherence-friendly packaging, medication synchronization to ensure timely refills, and access assistance programs to help with medication costs, they will be able to live more independently.
Managing Health at Home for a Vulnerable Population
At Altruix, we are entirely focused on helping everyone access behavioral health, substance use disorder, and intellectual & developmental disability medications and optimizing outcomes by promoting adherence.
That translates into a holistic and consumer-centric focus for us as a business. Individuals within this vulnerable population are often managing multiple medications daily, and may face a difficult transition to home care. To ease this burden, our pharmacy provides services that make a real difference in the day-to-day lives of consumers. Some of these include adherence-friendly packaging, simplified processes which minimize the risk of missed doses or accidental overdoses, medication synchronization to ensure prescriptions are refilled on time, active engagement through disease data management programs, assistance and hardship programs, and utilizing appropriate technologies like Medherent to enhance adherence rates to over 90%.
For example, for particular drugs, Altruix pharmacy teams reach out to individuals who are on to help them manage their medications and any side effects. We can then circle back to providers to adjust the medication or the dose if necessary. Personalized service like this goes a long way to allow the greater independence of home care with a reduced risk of relapse.
It is also vital to be flexible in the way that people receive their medications. To facilitate this, Altruix has an in-house fleet that offers direct delivery to facilities and, in some cases, individual homes. However, this is not a one-size-fits-all solution. We make logistics decisions based on each individual’s specific needs. When we assess the best way to get medications to people, we sometimes find out that USPS, FedEx overnight, or delivering to programs that have a closer relationship with the person make more sense.
Personal Dignity and the Shift Towards Home-Based Care and Remote Support
Recognizing the value of home-based care, the healthcare ecosystem is undergoing a significant shift towards prioritizing dignity. Many individuals with behavioral health conditions, substance use disorder, and intellectual disabilities have experienced the stress of intense institutional settings, often lacking suitable alternatives. The growing acknowledgment of the benefits of home-based care is exciting, as it promises a better quality of life and deeper connections with their communities.
People with behavioral health conditions are just like any other individual, with minor differences in visible traits. The notion that they should lead different lives is unjust, and the move towards home-based care advocates for treating all people with the dignity and respect they deserve.
When the people who need our services can view Altruix as part of their care team, cheering them on, everyone wins.
Embracing home-based care and remote support are critical steps towards improving healthcare outcomes for the behavioral health population. Despite challenges, the adoption of home-based care is one way to center services back where they belong––on the individual using them.
By embracing innovation and fostering personal dignity, we can transform the healthcare experience, offering a life of greater independence. The future holds immense promise as remote supports and cutting-edge technologies create a more connected, supportive, and dignified healthcare ecosystem for all. Home health care and the technologies and providers that make it possible offer a path to what consumers wanted all along–to get well, and go home.