One silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic was that it provided healthcare organizations the opportunity to innovate, refine, and adopt new care delivery models. Several providers looked to Medicare’s Acute Hospital Care at Home program. This approach offers acute medical care to patients in their homes via telemedicine, remote monitoring, and twice-daily in-person visits. While the Hospital at Home concept has been around for more than 20 years, the need to preserve bed capacity and limit patient exposure to COVID-19 prompted government regulators to formally offer providers the opportunity to apply for entry into the Acute Hospital Care at Home program. The result is the healthcare industry now enjoys a great deal more insight into what works with Hospital at Home and where the challenges are.
When to Prescribe Hospital at Home Services
As Hospital at Home programs evolve, providers have discovered several medical conditions that can be treated remotely, including:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Heart failure
- Urinary tract infections
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Acute viral illnesses
Hospital at Home Curb Appeal
There are several benefits to treating a patient in their home, most importantly, producing better health outcomes for the right patients. According to Johns Hopkins Medical School—one of the early pioneers of the approach—Hospital at Home programs have lower mortality rates and less use of delirium sedatives and patient restraints. Of course, patients are more comfortable in their homes and able to rest in their own beds. Family and caregivers can attend to the patients in a familiar environment with support and direction from medical professionals. Hospital at Home programs also reduce the interruption of care due to facility transfers. By staying at home, patients are more likely to receive care until they have recovered—and the average length of stay is lower outside the hospital.
For healthcare organizations and providers, the Hospital at Home model also offers other benefits. Depending on the program and patient specifics, providers can experience cost savings of 19 to 30% compared to traditional inpatient care.
Providers caring for acute patients in homes tend to order fewer lab and diagnostic tests to administer.
Equally important, Hospital at Home programs help protect many in the provider’s labor force from nosocomial exposure, reducing expensive and time-consuming hygiene regimens, and helping curtail stress and burnout.
Finally, in late 2020, Medicare announced it would reimburse hospitals at acute inpatient rates for qualifying care in the home to enable providers to focus more on treating COVID-19 patients in facilities. Since then, more than 250 hospitals have received Medicare approval to create programs, and the trend is expected to grow.
But how do you know if your organization is ready to design and execute its Hospital at Home program?
How FORVIS Can Help—Healthcare Readiness Scorecard
To help you determine if your organization is prepared to successfully implement a Hospital at Home program, FORVIS’ Healthcare Practice has created a Readiness Scorecard that will provide insight and guidance on organizational readiness for participation. This scorecard evaluates the most critical categories of operations, including general infrastructure, personnel, telehealth experience, IT capabilities, care pathways, and patient acuity.
As with many new payment and delivery models, FORVIS’ Healthcare Practice seeks to bring the best thought capital to market with speed and value, and this is no exception. Successful providers adapt nimbly, transition seamlessly, and scale quickly when new opportunities like Hospital at Home arise; we are eager to support the important adaptation, transition, and scaling efforts of our clients.
We look forward to putting our integration of technical knowledge, industry intelligence, and a future-focused approach toward helping you. For information on the Hospital at Home Readiness Scorecard, please contact Michael Wolford.