Helping Patients by Bringing Hospital Care to Their Homes
The COVID-19 pandemic forever changed the healthcare landscape. Among the many outcomes, patients began delaying care to avoid hospitals. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in June of 2020, more than 40% of respondents reported having delayed or avoided any medical care, including urgent or emergency care and routine care, because of concerns about COVID-19. This led many healthcare systems to examine how, and where, they deliver care to patients who need it.
The conclusion was unexpected, but simple: Patients who need acute-level care may be able to receive the same quality care in their homes, rather than in a hospital.
Meeting Patients Where They Are
Many patients admitted to a hospital need hospital-level care, but are considered stable enough to be safely monitored from their homes. For patients that have conditions with well-defined treatment protocols, such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure, diabetes or cellulitis, receiving treatment at home is preferred. It also has the added benefit of allowing for more space in the hospital for patients who need beds.
In November 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched the Acute Hospital Care At Home Program. The program allows hospitals to admit patients from the emergency department and inpatient beds to their homes. Units in this program are virtual, but patients are seen in-person daily by nurses, physicians or health paramedics.
At Northwestern Medicine, teams began to investigate how to provide the same level of patient care using the new model. A pilot screening began in January 2022, with the goal of seeing one patient through the hospital-at-home model.