Healthcare News & Insights

The future of hospitals: Treating patients at home

As technology becomes more advanced, giving providers the ability to monitor patients’ conditions from afar, “hospital at home” programs will grow in popularity. Hospitals must be prepared for this shift in care delivery. 

78768320According to an article in Forbes, providing hospital care at home will become much more common, given the rise in the use of telehealth technology in health care.

Plus, due to the advances in various scientific fields such as biology and chemistry, care delivery will be transformed entirely.

Almost all illnesses will be treated at home, and patients will only go to a physical hospital for any physical, hands-on procedures they need to maintain their health, or heal from an acute condition.

In fact, per the Forbes article, in several decades, hospitals as they currently exist may eventually disappear. People will recover at home from these treatments instead of in a facility.

Current state of hospital at home

Right now, several facilities have implemented their own version of a hospital at home program that’s not quite as tech-based, but it still uses existing technology to treat patients in their homes and avoid costly hospital stays.

An article in the Boston Globe discusses the efforts of Brigham and Women’s Hospital with its hospital at home program. The facility hires extra doctors and nurses to visit patients’ homes, checking on them multiple times each day until they recover.

Computer tablets help providers monitor patients’ vital signs from afar. Doctors will make additional visits to the patients’ home if anything looks suspicious, or they’ll check up on the patient with a quick phone call.

Usually, only patients with certain conditions are eligible to participate in these programs. Brigham and Women’s hospital at home program treats patients with heart failure, infections, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Any patient who needs a major procedure or intensive care can’t be treated at home.

Should any complications arise, participation in the Brigham and Women’s hospital at home program is also limited to patients who live within five miles of the hospital, just in case they need to be admitted right away.

Patients who sign up to participate in these types of programs are generally happier with their care than those who have traditional hospital stays. And their outcomes are often better as well.

The Boston Globe article cites a study from JAMA Internal Medicine, which showed that mortality rates and readmissions for patients in these programs were lower or equal to those of regular hospital stays. In addition, costs were an average of $2,000 lower for hospital at home patients.

Payor coverage

So far, the biggest obstacle to administering hospital treatment at home to patients is getting payors to cover the costs.

While hospital at home treatment typically saves money, carriers are reluctant to reimburse hospitals for these services. Brigham and Women’s is currently working with a local payor to see if it’ll cover the program, since the hospital’s parent program is absorbing all its costs right now.

If more payors start seeing hospital-at-home treatment as a viable strategy, it may be a good move for your hospital – especially if you’re looking to improve your facility’s patient outcomes and quality of care.

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