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2020 Reflection: How the Pandemic Made Home Health Care Stronger

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the hand of the healthcare industry. The “new normal” challenged and demanded.

Through the chaos, the industry responded by making tremendous strides to provide care for people in a society with lockdowns, social distancing, and government mandates. 

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.” —Mary Shelley

Invention and innovation have been some of the silver linings of the COVID chaos. At Constellation Health Services, we embraced the new normal challenge and the need for innovation. Below are the lessons our leadership team learned from the unprecedented year, 2020. 

Use Technology to Become Efficient

The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked us into the future. The quick adoption of new and more vibrant uses of technology made Constellation much more efficient and more accurate in our assessments of patients. Using virtual visits to supplement communication and check-ins with patients, has exponentially increased our level of care and ability to connect. Through necessity, we now provide quality, holistic care through technology and reduce exposure to infections, including COVID-19.

“We’ve actually known for a long time that telehealth is very helpful in terms of staying in touch with our patients in between physical visits. It had been on our radar to really expand that as an opportunity. Then COVID came along and allowed us to really expedite how quickly we got this together.” —Judy Walsh, Constellation’s Regional Director of Population Health

Provide Care in Any Setting

Since COVID hit, the benefits of home health care became a major conversation point as the healthcare industry scrambled to reduce exposure to disease. Healthcare options and alternatives came to light. 

“Institutional care is probably not where people want to be. People want to recover in the comfort of their own home. This is what we’ve been seeing.” —Isaac Steg, Constellation CEO

The need for hands-on care is still prevalent, even in the midst of a pandemic, but it’s more about providing care in any setting than being siloed into one particular solution. An individual or patient doesn’t necessarily have to be in the hospital to get great healthcare, or in an outpatient setting to get therapy. This concept led us to offering advanced care for our patients who require additional oversight, through virtual visits with nurse practitioners, and has lowered hospitalization rates across the board. Providing care anywhere the patient resides and at the level they require, results in the best care for the patient.  

Create Habits that Maintain Preparation 

Readiness has always been the key to emergency preparedness. Constellation has made preparation a normal standard. Prior to the pandemic, the company was well trained in infectious control, and ready to act when the pandemic arrived, but there’s more to be done. “Constant” readiness is at the forefront of our planning moving into 2021. We are committed to providing PPE and additional communication devices such as laptops, iPads, and iPhones to personnel on a daily basis. 

“We need to constantly be ready for anything that comes our way and make sure that we have our resources fully replenished every time we use them to anticipate any upcoming problems.” —Jeanne Callahan-Lydon, Constellation’s VP of Clinical Operations 

Processes have been solidified to ensure each office and staff member has what they need. Weekly calls have become a priority in these new processes to verify every region has sufficient PPE for both in-house staff, as well as field staff. We’ve also been able to re-train our staff virtually, so they don’t become exposed to COVID during in-person education. Through our education portal, we send out PPE training and COVID training opportunities, and other types of proactive education such as contact and respiratory precautions, and infection control. 

Don’t Wait to Make a Change

Stay-at-home orders accelerated Constellation’s ability to innovate home health care and reduce exposure. 

“What we’ve learned from COVID is don’t wait. There are many different things we’ve been talking about for months or years, and really trying to figure out how to deliver those services—and COVID simply accelerated it.” —Steg

As a result of newly deployed tools like telehealth and virtual monitoring, we can now identify a slight change in condition earlier than the pre-COVID era and make faster decisions to customize care for the patient. 

Put the Patient at the Center of Care

The ultimate lesson learned from the year of COVID is always to put the patient first and the rest will follow. COVID put an attack on business operations in addition to threatening exposure to patients. We have always made the patient our number 1 priority, and this year reinforced our motto: Treating people like family.  

“I think as long as the patient is at the center and feels like they’re part of our family, we’re going to be successful,” —Steg

Contact Constellation

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Constellation Health Services is an award-winning, value-based home health care agency serving the Northeast. At Constellation, our goal is to provide a comprehensive stay-at-home health solution for your patients that includes a team of trained professionals, a suite of technology services, and coordination of in-home diagnostic and delivery services. We help partners achieve an average savings of 10% by avoiding rehospitalization penalties and reducing nursing home utilization and length-of-stay. Learn more.

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