The hospital at home model is growing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just two years ago, many people were skeptical that they could get the same quality of care at home as they would in the doctor’s office or at the hospital. The pandemic flipped the script. Now, many patients and their families have begun to experience the power of new, innovative technology that enables providers and their caregivers to deliver quality care in the home, making positive impacts on patient lives while also reducing costs.
The shift from the facility to the home also comes on the heels of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) introduction of the Acute Hospital Care at Home waiver, in which many health systems and hospitals were able to provide acute care at home to increase hospital capacity amid the surge of the coronavirus – and for a fee-for-service Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement. The success of these efforts have since encouraged lawmakers to extend this with the Hospital Inpatient Services Act, which allows for a two-year extension of the federal acute hospital-at-home waiver and pushes to potentially make it permanent for patients.
As a result of the rapid growth in the space and success of the hospital at home program, McKinsey estimates that within the next three years, up to $265 billion worth of care services, which totals about 25% the total cost of care, could shift from traditional facilities to the home – and without a reduction in quality or access.
While homecare providers are not responsible for providing acute care, they will be a critical component in ensuring the success of the hospital at home concept. Here are three main factors to consider as this movement continues to take hold.
The Hospital at Home Ecosystem – Considerations for Homecare Agencies
- Care Coordination. Homecare providers are at a clear advantage as our industry further adopts the hospital at home model. Homecare providers have always worked with patients directly in the home, which is not the case for all healthcare organizations and staff. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, other healthcare organizations had to quickly adopt new methods and technologies in order to continue caring for patients outside the fours walls of the hospital or health system. Looking forward, as more and more members of a patient’s care team – from home health aides to nurses and doctors – visit individuals in the home, they must all collaborate and work in sync to ensure the best outcome for each individual. This will take a concerted effort on the part of the whole industry, utilizing a team-based healthcare approach to ensure all care providers are working collaboratively with the patient to accomplish shared goals and achieve coordinated, high quality care outcomes.
- The Role of Technology. Technology will also be critical to ensuring the success of hospital at home. From telehealth and remote patient monitoring platforms, to biometrics monitoring that checks pulse, breathing, and other key data points, all pieces of technology must work together to ensure there are no gaps or silos in communication and patient care. Interoperability between systems will be key, and technology platforms will be required to enable the collection of real-time patient data and clinical information from all the various point solutions and devices.
- Regulations and Reimbursements. There are numerous studies demonstrating the power and success of hospital at home programs, but steps must be taken on regulations and reimbursements to make them a long-term, permanent offering beyond the current two-year extension. As the infrastructure is further built, hospitals and health systems will have to invest in the logistical and technological resources to support patients in this new care paradigm. That time and money should not go to waste, especially when such initiatives can reduce costs, prevent hospital readmissions, and increase patient satisfaction. As an industry, we all can come together and further advocate for CMS to guarantee payment parity across traditional inpatient and hospital at home settings long beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency.
As our industry shifts and evolves, homecare remains at the forefront of the ecosystem and will continue to be a critical component in achieving operational efficiency, increasing compliance, and improving patient outcomes. Our team is here to further guide you on your ongoing journey, ensuring you have the tools, technology, and resources necessary for long-term success as hospital at home continues to pick up steam.