CMS announced its Hospital Without Walls program back in March, 2020 among other rules and waivers to try and curb the burgeoning patient crisis in local hospitals amid Covid-19. The goal was to help providers better address patient needs during such challenging times. Through this initiative, CMS permitted healthcare systems and hospitals to offer services in locations outside their walls, and treat patients in their home settings.
Reliable payment mechanisms are needed to sustain the growing demand for hospital at home programs. Alongside the CMS Acute Hospital Care at Home Waiver, most programs are turning towards state Medicaid programs, for expanding the program’s outreach and making HaH programs more accessible to everyone in the community. The Hospital at Home Waiver was announced by CMS in November 2020. Medicare coverage has made hospital at home programs become more equitable, as this waiver enabled payments for Medicare patients receiving in-patient care outside hospital walls. At the same time, CMS is seeking to increase access to telehealth services for people with Medicare.
Use of Technology: Gains for Hospital at Home Initiatives?
Technology-based support will facilitate care delivery to patients receiving care outside of hospital walls, whether at home or an assisted living facility. Advances in technology and its increasing use by both providers and patients lends support to the home setting being the preferred site for care delivery services. Telehealth for instance is one tool that is a practical lifeline for thousands across the country. Its use extends beyond addressing urgent complaints or Covid-19 screenings. Patients receive primary care as well as mental health care and can access specialty care services such as physical therapy from the comfort of their home settings.
Now, more health systems are leveraging technology as they embrace hospital at home programs for their patients in order to defend market share. What Hospital at Home programs do is combine in-home and virtual visits with remote monitoring, and offer patients with hospital-level care in their homes. With this care model, patients have the option to receive acute-level care in their homes. Numerous studies have shown that the Hospital at Home model has proven to be safer, cheaper and better for patients compared to that care being given in a hospital setting. The trend for these programs is definitely increasing, and post-covid, digital technology is accelerating the trend by increasing access to telehealth services across the care continuum.
In the face of Covid-19 shutdowns and the ensuing chaos, more healthcare providers took to embracing virtual care options as means to connect and stay updated over patient needs. Most providers are openly looking to offer virtual care to patients in home-based settings. Regardless, technological advances and innovation are changing attitudes and increasing adoption of programs like Hospital at Home. On the consumer acceptance front, the pandemic has made patients more open and comfortable around the use of digital tools that offer telehealth services. Telehealth will revolutionize care delivery processes and dramatically change the way providers offer and patients receive care. Providers can use telehealth to increase the quality of patient outcomes, cut down on costs and improve provider-patient relationships. Technology suited to their precise demands is now widely available in the market today.
A strong technology partner can assist healthcare systems looking to offer hospital-level care in the patient’s home in a myriad number of ways:
- Biometric monitoring
- Virtual visits
- Caregiver communication tools
- Wound Imaging
Communication devices that offer telehealth services are transforming the way providers deliver care to patients outside the walls of a hospital. Not only is it a cost-effective route to care being delivered, it can also very easily be implemented within organizations as they deal with more complex patient needs. Treating patients in home settings compared to a crowded hospital helps keep patients safe from getting exposed to other illnesses such as hospital acquired infections (HAIs) in hospital settings.
The Hospital at Home Model: How Can Hucu.ai Help?
All Hospital at Home programs run differently and vary on the basis of patient populations and available resources. The two most common models consist of Emergency Department Diversion and Early Discharge. A typical leading program handles these opportunities as follows: Initially, a patient in the Emergency Department or inpatient hospital bed is assessed as being a suitable candidate for the Hospital at Home program. They are eligible for the program if they suffer from one of the targeted illnesses (worsening chronic conditions, UTI, cellulitis, Covid-19). Apatient already receiving treatment at the hospital qualifies for the Early Discharge HaH Program based on an in-person physician evaluation to see whether they are a suitable candidate for the Hospital at Home program.
If considered appropriate, the patient is given the remote patient monitoring and telehealth platform while still at the hospital, or the relevant technology is provided at the patient’s home by the Hospital at Home nurse. Afterwards, the patient is moved to their home setting for further care treatment. While home, the patient gets nursing care daily either remotely or in-person, and two in–person visits every day through registered nurses or mobile integrated health paramedics. Every day the patient engages with telehealth tools to stay connected with their providers and monitor their symptoms while receiving HaH care.
Health systems with Hospital at Home programs can leverage communication technology such as Hucu.ai to help providers and patients stay connected regarding their symptoms while receiving care at their home. Telehealth is a convenient medium for connecting virtually anywhere and at all times. Telehealth platforms are gaining more popularity as most people prefer care treatments from the comfort of their homes. Telehealth delivers healthcare services via communication devices by providing video-conferencing access to providers and patients. Patients receiving care at home can benefit from Hucu.ai: a HIPAA compliant healthcare messaging solution that offers providers with secure video conferencing and text messaging directly with the patients being treated in their home. Healthcare providers and patients benefit using Hucu.ai’s app, as they can directly check in with patients through virtual healthcare consultations. Technology is leading the way, and now patients can sit at home and receive care just like they would at the hospital in their homes.