Amid an unprecedented global pandemic –– with monkeypox, a concurrent, worldwide health crisis, catching wind –– medicine has been pressurized into progress. More specifically, the ways in which we deliver healthcare.
Only a few months ago, Disneyland and Dodger Stadium converted from tourist traps to COVID-19 vaccination sites. In times of social distancing, telemedicine became a necessity –– with reports showing that nearly half of care provided to U.S. patients at the peak of the pandemic was remote, dropping to above one-third by 2022 –– while staff shortages, burnout and demand ushered in ‘survival mode’ protocols to discharge patients on a quick turnaround.
“We went from being this really open society to masks, hand-washing tutorials and visitor restrictions during end-of-life care,” says Jackie Lleverino, a healthcare professional who has worn many hats over the last 15 years.
With a background in hospice care, she has witnessed industry standards transform at a rapid pace due to COVID-19 measures, for better and for worse. The average length of in-hospital stays have decreased to 5.4 days while discharge planners fought bottlenecked emergency rooms at maximum capacity.
Care coordinators Careport says home-based, post-acute care may be a defining aspect of the ‘new normal’ ahead, with TechCrunch predicting a positive trend for in-home health to expand from its current standing at 3% of the healthcare market to exceed 10%.
“Home health can curb pain points experienced by both hospitals and patients that predate COVID-19 and continue to exist,” Lleverino says, noting that hospitals lean on home health agencies to a higher degree when anticipating a sudden influx.
This is where Boost, an in-home, intermittent care provider, comes in.
Lleverino, who serves as brand president, describes Boost as the happy medium between non-medical, home care and full-time hospice. Boost picks up where other in-home care options leave off, providing medical management to its clients. Their services include skilled nursing, certified home health aide and physical therapy.
California welcomed Boost’s first brick-and-mortar facility, which opened July 11, in Culver City. With the acquisition of Boost, formerly ProHealth Home Care Services, it is the latest addition to Best Life Brands, complementing a continuum of care.
Boost differentiates itself by providing nurse-inspired home healthcare. ProHealth was founded in 2010 by two RNs, who have over 20 years of critical care and oncology experience. Its organic growth within the hospital system network uniquely embeds the company as a trusted resource for discharged patients.
ProHealth’s founders specialized in oncology, or cancer-related diagnoses, which positions the program in a preventative role within the means of at-home clinical care.
A Los Angeles backdrop primes Boost’s formidable beginnings within a concentrated, melting-pot population, hosting an onslaught of preexisting conditions that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
In March, the state issued a $55 million penalty to insurance agency LA Care, a publically operating health plan that covers more than 2 million Medi-Cal patients and other low-income recipients, after failing to provide timely care, the LA Times reports. While health plans are given a 15-day window to find specialist appointments for patients, the Times found the average wait to be around 89 days –– a lethal span of time for the county’s poorest residents.
Pertaining to coronavirus, the Public Policy Institute of California points out stark disparities across race and ethnicity in the state. Black residents died at a rate 37% higher than white residents; for Latino residents, death rates were 20% higher. Nearly two-thirds of COVID-related deaths among adults under 50 years of age were Latinos, who comprise less than half of the state’s population in that age group.
“Hospitals are not a perfect environment for safety. They’re just not,” Lleverino says.
Services like Boost administer a quality of care lacking in a public system while also freeing up beds, Jackie says. This simultaneously helps hospitals better handle readmission rates and keeps patients from bouncing in and out of facilities.
Lleverino spends her days networking across hospitals, clinics or assisted living communities, building out Boost’s hub-and-spoke model. Reaching out to physicians, educating department administrators and case managers about Boost’s services is part of her day-to-day. Successful leads place Boost within a facility’s referral management system portal where eligible patients may then be able to opt in for at-home care as an alternative to prolonging their hospital stay or going without recovery assistance. When it comes to filling out the company’s audience profile, it’s senior-centric.
By 2030, Baby Boomers will have reached retirement age across the board. In California alone, the 65-years-and-up population is estimated to account for four million residents –– with at least one-fourth of that population likely requiring self-care assistance despite living on a low, fixed income.
Upon retirement age, Americans become eligible for the federal government’s answer to health coverage, Medicare, which comes at an affordable average monthly premium of $19 in 2022 –– down from $21.22 the year prior.
However, there are major gaps in the federally funded insurance plan, which does not cover crucial necessities such as outpatient prescriptions, long-term care, routine vision and dental visits, copayments or deductibles.
Fidelity Investments estimates that the average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2022 will spend $315,000 in health-care and medical expenses in their retirement.
“Not a lot of people are looking out for them,” Lleverino says, noting that Boost couples with social workers to assure that their clients’ basic needs are met. “Many of the seniors I have worked with are by themselves and don’t have that support system.”
While advancements such as Telemedicine and online appointment portals may be game-changing to the general public –– granting remote access to physicians in order to not miss a beat on prescription refills and easing the hassle of in-person, follow up appointments –– seniors can easily get left behind once technology is incorporated into basic infrastructures.
“Seniors are living longer and the reality is that they want their independence,” Lleverino says. “They just need a little assistance –– we can provide that.”
Among the younger population, those that find themselves to be temporarily debilitated from a major surgery or outpatients eligible to recover at home with minor medical intervention may also seek Boosts services in their time of need.
“Most people would prefer to stay at home,” Lleverino says, especially when considering the cost.
Hospital costs averaged $2,607 per day throughout the United States, according to Debt.org, with Californians faring the worst at $3,726 per day in the most expensive state for health care.
Boost is fully covered by Medicare and accepts Medicaid, Veterans Affairs benefits, workers compensation, long-term care insurance and private pay. Many of their clients experience little to no out-of-pocket expenses, according to their website.
“Many people aren’t aware of the resources that are available to them,” Lleverino says, tagging even more costs to everyone participating in the American healthcare system, with special premiums to those uneducated about its inner workings. “That’s why the hospitals are jammed the way that they are.”
Before the year’s end, two more Boosts locations will debut in Texas, with another in Colorado to follow, later this year.
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