The home healthcare (HHC) industry has already seen an explosion in growth in the last decade, and that growth is not expected to level off anytime soon. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), through 2026, the healthcare industry overall is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations, at 18%. Home healthcare in particular is projected to grow more than twice as fast as the healthcare industry in that same period at 41% according to the BLS. That is four million new jobs for those at home keeping score.

With the demand for the services of HHC aides and personal caregivers expected to continue growing in the US, it forces us to ask several questions: why is such rapid growth occurring, what does it mean for the industry, and how can the industry prepare?

This article will discuss where all this growth is coming from and how expense management software can prepare the industry for the changes sure to come.

Why is the HHC Industry Growing so Rapidly?

There are many factors contributing to the growth of this industry. Overall, they can be sorted into three main categories: an aging US population, a culture shift to in-home care, and the cost of healthcare.

Aging US Population: Americans are getting grayer. By 2050, the number of Americans who will be over the age of 65 will have doubled to 88 million. Not only are baby boomers all beginning to seek care options for their later years, the US population is growing overall, and there will be more patients than ever before seeking treatment for chronic health conditions such as diabetes and obesity.

Popularity of In-Home Care: There is a shift away from nursing home or inpatient care to in-home or community-based care in the US. According to the BLS, both elderly patients and younger patients with disabilities are increasingly relying on home care as an alternative to nursing homes and hospitals. For people who primarily need assistance with daily tasks and household chores, remaining at home in their communities and with their families is both affordable and more practical. In fact, a survey by AARP found that 90% of individuals prefered to stay in their own homes as they aged.

Cost: Advancements in technology make in-home treatment of some common medical conditions available to more patients than ever before. Add that to the rising costs of nursing homes and inpatient care, and the choice seems obvious for many patients. Physicians and healthcare in general are also more accepting of this culture shift away from inpatient care. Cost-efficient treatment options from public and private payers are now more widely available.

What Does Such Rapid Growth Mean for the Industry?

In order to sustain themselves through the kind of growth and expansion the HHC industry is expecting, agencies will need to grow their workforce. Agencies across the country are increasingly worried about filling all the open positions with qualified individuals, however. All skill levels are needed from nurses to aides to caregivers.

Healthcare IT is currently built on legacy systems and outdated technologies. Without updates, HHC agencies will see their business operations strained as they try to provide the same care to more patients in wide service areas. Connectivity and communication will be more vital than ever to these organizations.

How can HHC providers prepare for the growth to come?

To grow their workforce, HHC agencies will need to focus on managing and supporting their employees in the years to come. Currently, most agencies hire employees as contracted workers, restricting benefits such as health insurance or a 401(k). Wages are also shockingly low for a job with such high emotional and physical demands, at just $11.03/hour on average. The BLS even warns that low pay combined with high emotional demands may cause many workers to leave this occupation. In order to attract workers to this market, HHC providers need to offer more competitive wages and employment packages.

Healthcare IT will also need to improve its services to help close the gaps in care for the HHC industry and support its workers. This includes improving outdated legacy systems, giving mobile workers better technological support and employing more integrative data collection solutions.

None of these preparations can occur without better management of expenses, however. Inadequate reimbursement policies, poor expense visibility, inefficient processes, delayed reimbursements and an inability to discern expense trends can cripple an organization financially, but expense management software can solve all of these issues without overtaxing employees. Adopting expense management software will take agencies a long way toward achieving their goals of providing more competitive jobs for employees and shoring up their IT systems.

Expense management software manages the reimbursement process end-to-end, gives employees more visibility, decreases inaccurate reporting and automates reimbursement process. Employees will receive more accurate reimbursements for expenses such as travel, and they will receive them faster. This software also allows agencies to track expenses more effectively and identify trends so they can better understand where they’re losing money.

Mileage Expense Management Software

For an industry with so many mobile workers, reimbursing for mileage expenses is one of the key areas where agencies lose money through inefficient processes. An expense management software such as SureMileage by CompanyMileage helps agencies get mileage reimbursements under control.

SureMileage automates the reimbursement process, so employees no longer need to manually log odometer readings or use outdated GPS systems. Employees simply use SureMileage to calculate the mileage from point A to B, and the system handles the rest. It even integrates with most accounting and payroll systems to further accelerate the process. CompanyMileage customers save 20-30% on mileage expenses on average, and those savings can allow agencies to properly address the issues brought on by agency growth.

Demand for in-home services will be in excess of the supply of workers soon, and there is no one solution to fix the problems this industry faces. However, expense management software is one of many upgrades HHC agencies need to make in order to have the freedom to explore other solutions such as improving wages and providing better IT systems.

CompanyMileage has already helped HHC organizations across the country regain control of their mileage expenses. Learn how we can work with your agency today by scheduling a demo.