Hospice, home health drive more than UPS

NAHC study evaluates amount of home care travel

Nurses, therapists, home care aides, and others who serve elderly and disabled patients in their own homes drive nearly 5 billion miles each year. Caring for nearly 12 million patients annually with 428 million visits, the providers of home care and hospice services are health care's version of "road warriors," according to a study produced by the National Association of Home Care's (NAHC) Foundation for Hospice and Homecare.

The study shows that the number of miles driven by hospice and home care workers reached 4.8 billion miles in 2006. With the expansion in the use of lower-cost home care services as the average age of the U.S. population rises, the estimated miles driven for 2008 should well exceed 5 billion, according to the report.

Putting the miles driven in perspective highlights the magnitude of the undertaking in home care. The annual miles driven by the nurses, therapists, aides, and others is the equivalent of 1,386,458 trips across the United States at its widest latitude, 192, 920 times around the Earth, 10,017 round trips to the moon, and 52 trips to the sun. UPS, an international delivery service, drives just more than 2 billion miles every year globally, according to the report.

The data were calculated from more than 4,200 Medicare cost reports, as well as through an online survey of 1,200 home care providers.