Home health care companies gear up to meet personnel crunch

Home health care companies are looking at options to address the anticipated problem of personnel shortage. The challenge is expected to be acute in the next few years.


Leaders such as Portea, Nightingale and Philips are gearing up to meet this with technology and other emerging models.


At present, it is attracting staff from hospitals by offering higher remuneration and reduced working hours, said sector leaders. However, with wider opportunities in the unorganised market and higher growth, it could face a shortage of skilled labour in the future, they add.


Richa Singh, chief executive officer (CEO) of Philips Home Care, said, “It is a serious challenge. Manpower is what will ensure the quality you deliver at home. We are reaching out to colleges, where we can recruit, train and deploy. The shortage is in terms of quality nurses and paramedics."


Home health care is worth around $5 billion and will quickly double its value, according to Vishal Bali, co-founder and chairman of Medwell Ventures.


Portea, Medwell Ventures, Care24, India Home Healthcare, Apollo Homecare, Max Healthcare, and Philips are among the major ones in the organised sector. There was not a single player in the organised segment three or four years ago.


“The quantum of people we need, because we are providing services at home, is a lot more,” said Bali.


The segment requires a spectrum of skills, including doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists. One way is to deploy the available skill in a better way. Technology can be used, said Meena Ganesh, CEO and managing director of Portea.


The company is working with the National Skill Development Council and Karunashraya Trust to identify and train nurses.


 It has developed a platform to monitor and collect health-related data from patients. This will reduce the resources required for monitoring patients. It uses video-calling and remote diagnostics to help clinicians and doctors.


The growth of the sector is expected to be higher with various rounds of funding in the recent past. Around $147 million has been invested in the segment between 2013 and 2017, according to research firm Venture Intelligence.


Backed by the country’s largest hospital chain network, Apollo Home Health is trying to address the challenge, said Mahesh Joshi, CEO of Apollo Homecare.


“Home health care is not an environment in which nurses or doctors are trained to work in. We always find it challenging to recruit amid high attrition,” he said.


In evolved markets, a professional would visit the home once a day or week, while a health care aide would take care of the rest, he added.


“This model will help skilled resources to handle four or five patients. If you are able to evolve to that level, the cost of home health care will come down,” he added.