On Tuesday, November 24th, as hospitals in more than a dozen states neared capacity, the U.S. reported 2,203 confirmed COVID-19-related deaths which was the highest number since early May. On Wednesday, November 25th, Medically Home, a leader in the field of home hospitalization, announced a broad expansion of its efforts to provide home-based hospital programs for health systems across the country.
Earlier on November 25th, in anticipation of a continued surge in COVID-19 cases, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released details of a new Acute Hospital Care at Home initiative. This comprehensive plan grants all of the 62 million Americans participating in Medicare and Medicare Advantage full eligibility for home hospitalization options for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
In response to the CMS action, Medically Home, along with its partners — healthcare consulting firm Huron and medical supplier Cardinal Health — intends to scale up its effort rapidly to establish and expand home-based hospital care nationwide. Home hospitalization, which has already accelerated due to the pandemic, provides effective, high-quality hospital services at-home, addressing dozens of conditions that typically require onsite hospitalization. Examples include chronic diseases such as COPD or heart failure, some types of acute infections, post-surgical recovery, and COVID-19 cases that don’t require time in an ICU.
Medically Home uses an innovative clinical model for home hospitalization backed by medical command centers. Nurses and physicians working in these hubs provide around-the-clock patient monitoring with the use of cutting-edge technologies. The model includes at-home, rapid-response clinical services, lab work, X-rays, ultrasound diagnostics, oxygen and IV therapies, and other services. The company clearly differentiates its hospital-at-home model from more limited non-acute home health services such as standard remote patient monitoring or telehealth appointments.
The proprietary model and technology allow Medically Home and its partners to establish a fully functioning program in less than 30 days, without sacrificing the rigor and attention to detail needed to deliver hospital-grade care at home. Medically Home is in talks with more than 100 healthcare organizations regarding the development of home-based hospital programs. It has already implemented its model at large, multi-location health systems such as the Mayo Clinic and Adventist Health.
Officials anticipate that the number of cases — and unfortunately, fatalities — will remain high throughout the holiday season. Funneling eligible patients into home-based programs frees up hospital beds and ICU space while decreasing the burden on frontline healthcare workers. It also reduces the risk of COVID-19 exposure, provides stress relief for patients and families, and minimizes in-hospital isolation.
Most importantly, home hospital options conserve onsite hospital resources (think ventilators and PPE, for starters). That means through the end of this year and well into 2021, hospitalization-at-home programs will undoubtedly help hospitals and providers save many, many lives.