Why health systems should consider hospital home care programs
The model of home hospital care has exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to 2020, only a handful of healthcare systems had a dedicated program for delivering acute home care. Today, more than 150 providers offer a home hospital care program.
The model has been attractive to providers as they face continued capacity and staffing constraints in the acute care environment due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Powered by technological innovations in telehealth and telemonitoring, it offers an alternative to patients in transition with a low risk of deterioration, freeing up beds for the sickest patients in the hospital. CMS’s announcement of the parity waivers also sped up adoption – at least providing temporary confidence in a stable reimbursement.
But there is uncertainty about the sustainability of home hospital care programs after the pandemic ends. The permanent reimbursement from CMS and private payers remains uncertain. Plus, while many programs were put in place quickly during the pandemic – some in as little as two weeks – long-term sustainability will require changes in the way care is delivered. Successful programs cannot exist in a vacuum, but must be integrated into advanced models of care, IT and billing integration, staff planning and training, and reallocation of the capital footprint.
Despite the potential challenges, there are many reasons why hospital and healthcare system leaders should consider long-term investments in a hospital-home care program. Below are the main advantages to consider: