New York resident Rodney Nelson said that his 77-year-old mother receives medical support from her one-bedroom apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Under her Medicare plan she is able to have a trained home aide come to visit her daily to help with tasks such as cooking and cleaning, Nelson said. The aide will also check in on Nelson's mother and provide social support. Every three months, a registered nurse will visit to evaluate her health.
"If she feels she needs to see her nurse sooner, she can call her primary-care physician from her smartphone and that may trigger an earlier evaluation," Nelson told CNBC.
Nelson said the home accommodations, set up between him and his mother's health-care providers, allow her to maintain her independence while also getting the support she needs. He said his mother, who is now retired, preferred to stay at home rather than in a hospital or a skilled nursing facility.
This situation is one example of how health care looks for the elderly and disabled patients at home in the U.S., some of whom are reporting signs of increased quality of care.
A recent report from The Commonwealth Fund found the percentage of home-health patients who got better at walking or moving around, a key measure of quality of care, rose in every state from 2013 to 2016. The group, which tracks performance in health systems nationwide, also found that hospital readmission rates for elderly Medicare beneficiaries continued to fall in nearly half the states from 2012 to 2015.
The improvement in care at home comes at a time when hospitals are forced to alter the way they deliver care, which can include providing more outpatient services or consulting patients online. Hospital admissions and length of stays have slumped in the U.S. over the years as more people are seeking cheaper alternatives or looking to fulfill their health-care needs more conveniently.
Additionally, the improvement in home-based care comes as incentives created under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, are encouraging cooperation among health-care providers, including hospitals, to reduce unnecessary health costs and keep people from being readmitted.
Under the Medicare Shared Savings Program, providers can form what is known as an Accountable Care Organization, or ACO. Under ACOs, health-care providers take on the responsibility for coordinating medical care for patients from the doctor's office to home care, in an effort to improve health outcomes and reduce overall costs. ACOs that successfully lower costs for their patient population are rewarded through bonuses.