Practice Management

Hospital at Home: Delivering hospital-level care without the hospital


Ensuring smooth postacute transition

Thirty days after hospital discharge is the most critical period, especially for elderly patients. According to one study, 19% of patients experienced adverse events within 3 weeks after hospital discharge.18 Adverse drug events were the most common postdischarge complication, followed by procedural complications and hospital-acquired infections. Furthermore, 30-day all-cause hospital readmissions is a common occurrence. Per the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project database, 17.1% of Medicare and 13.9% of all-payers patients were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days in 2016.19

It is not surprising that some organizations offer ongoing home care during the postacute period. At Mount Sinai, patients discharged from HaH continue to have access to the HaH team around the clock for 30 days to address emergencies and health concerns. Recovery Care Coordinators and social workers monitor patient health status, develop a follow-up plan, coordinate care, and answer questions. Medically Home provides 24/7 care to HaH patients for the entire duration of the acute care episode (34 days) to ensure maximum access to care and no gaps in care and communication. At Presbyterian, most HaH patients are transitioned into a Home Health episode of care to ensure continued high-quality care.

In addition to people, processes, technology, and the supply chain, HaH implementation requires capabilities to collect and analyze quality and cost data to measure program efficacy and, in some arrangements with payers, to reconcile clams data to determine shared savings or losses.

Partnering with third parties

Considering the resources and capabilities required for HaH program development and implementation, it is not surprising that health care providers are choosing to partner with third parties. For example, Mount Sinai partnered with Contessa Health, a Nashville, Tenn.–based company that offers hospitals a turn-key Home Recovery Care program, to assist with supply chain contracting and management, and claims data reconciliation.

Medically Home has partnered with seven health care systems, including the Mayo Clinic, Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and Adventist Health in southern California, to create virtual beds, and is expected to launch the program with 15 health care systems by the end of 2020.

Medically Home offers the following services to its partners to enable care for high-acuity patients at home:

  • Assistance with hiring and training of clinical staff.
  • Proprietary EMR-integrated orders, notes, and clinical protocols.
  • Technology for patient monitoring by the 24/7 central command center; tablets that provide health status updates and daily schedules, and enable televisits; a video platform for video communication; and secure texting.
  • Selection, contracting and monitoring the performance of supply chain vendors.
  • Analytics.

The future of Hospital at Home

There is no question that HaH can offer a safe, high-quality, and lower-cost alternative to hospitalizations for select patients, which is aligned with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ triple aim of better care for individuals, better health for populations, and lower cost.20

The future of HaH depends on development of a common payment model that will be adopted beyond the pandemic by government and commercial payers. Current payment models vary and include capitated agreements, discounted diagnosis-related group payments for the acute episode, and discounted DRG payments plus shared losses or savings.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created, arguably, the biggest crisis that U.S. health care has ever experienced, and it is far from over. Short term, Hospital at Home offers a solution to create flexible hospital bed capacity and deliver safe hospital-level care for vulnerable populations. Long term, it may be the solution that helps achieve better care for individuals, better health for populations and lower health care costs.

Dr. Farah is a hospitalist, physician advisor, and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. She is a performance improvement consultant based in Corvallis, Ore., and a member of the Hospitalist’s editorial advisory board.


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9. Cryer L, et al. Costs for ‘Hospital at Home’ Patients Were 19 Percent Lower, with Equal or Better Outcomes Compared to Similar Inpatients. Health Affairs. 2012 Jun;31(6):1237–43.

10. Personal communication with Presbyterian Health Services. May 20, 2020.

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14. Shepperd S, et al. Admission avoidance hospital at home. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;9(9):CD007491. DOI:10.1002/14651858.CD007491.pub2.

15. Levine DM, et al. Hospital-level care at home for acutely ill adults: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2020 Jan;172(2);77-85.

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17. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. CMS Announces Comprehensive Strategy to Enhance Hospital Capacity Amid COVID-19 Surge. 2020 Nov 20.

18. Forster AJ et al. The incidence and severity of adverse events affecting patients after discharge from the hospital. Ann Intern Med. 2003 Mar;138(3):161-7. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-138-3-200302040-00007.

19. Bailey MK et al. Characteristics of 30-Day All-Cause Hospital Readmissions, 2010-2016. Statistical Brief 248. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2019 Feb 12.

20. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. What are the value-based programs? 2020 Jan 6.


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