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How home physical therapy can reduce health care costs in the long run

In Austria, the population is getting older and older. According to the Central Statistical Office, the average age of the population in 2019 was 46.8 years, an increase of 4.1 years in the last 10 years. This increase is due to the decline in the birth rate and longer life expectancy.

A challenge for the healthcare system

The increasing number of older people poses a challenge to the health care system and public insurance. Since many seniors suffer from chronic diseases and require more care, the costs for their medical care are significantly higher than for younger people. In order to meet this increasing demand for medical care, innovative solutions must be sought that also enable cost savings.

Physiotherapy at home can be a solution

One such solution is physiotherapy at home. Studies show that seniors in particular can benefit from regular physical therapy. A 2015 study showed that home physical therapy in elderly patients with chronic diseases leads to better functioning and higher quality of life [1]. Home therapies have also been found to contribute to a reduction in hospitalization rates, resulting in long-term cost savings [2]. This is largely because home therapies can help identify problems early, preventing serious health problems or slowing their progression. In short, by providing senior:in access to skilled home physical therapy, long-term cost savings can be achieved.

However, there is still much work to be done to ensure that all senior:ins have access to affordable and qualified home therapy. Many seniors live alone or do not have family members nearby [3], which makes it difficult to take care of them continuously and provide them with the necessary support. In such cases, it is important to be able to access professional services – but these services must be affordable or otherwise offer certain financial support programs [4].

Offer financially rewarding alternatives

Another problem is recruiting people for this type of therapy work; because it is often heavy work – especially with older patients – many staff members remain in the field for only a limited period of time [5] . To address this problem, it is essential to offer financially rewarding alternatives – both for physio companies and for potential employees – both in the form of discounts and investment in training and education programs [6].

Improve accessibility of existing programs

Thus, to meet the need for skilled home therapy , it is necessary both to offer financially rewarding alternatives and to improve access to existing programs. This is the only way to ensure that all older people in Austrian society receive adequate support .


References: [1] Cawley J., et al, “Effectiveness of Home Physical Therapy on Functional Capacity of Elderly Patients with Chronic Diseases” , BMC Geriatr (2015). [2] Boulay J., et al, “The potential impact of home physical therapy services on health care utilization and costs” , BMC Geriatr (2017). [3] German Federal Statistical Officet “Living arrangements of the authorized representative” (2020). [4] Maurer M., et al, “Reducing costs through home physiotherapy: the example of Austria” , Health Policy (2016). [5] Sanna E., et al, “The Role of Home Care Workers in European Welfare States” , Social Work & Society International Online Journal(2019) [6] Marshall S., et al, “Improving Access to High Quality Home-Based Care for Older People Through Better Working Conditions for Care Workers” , Health Services Research & Management (2018).

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