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Bringing Hospital Care Home: A Revolution in Rural Healthcare

By , SVP Information Technology & Security and Privacy Officer June 11, 2024 Financial Performance, Operational Improvement, Critical Access and Rural Hospitals, Strategic Direction

An innovative concept that started in urban centers is making its way into the heart of rural America: hospital-at-home (H@H) care. The idea stemmed from the realization that patients in rural areas often face significant barriers to accessing regular treatment. H@H bridges the access gap by offering high-quality care at the patient’s home (or nursing home or assisted living facility). Not entirely new, the concept has gained traction due to advancements in telemedicine and mobile health technologies.

What’s Involved

There is no question that H@H improves patient outcomes and satisfaction while reducing cost. Although the implementation process is more complex than imagined and may seem daunting for a community hospital with limited resources, the model is beneficial for the hospital and patients. Some of the requirements that must be arranged include IT infrastructure, logistics for equipment, food and staff, and CMS credentialing. Many hospitals are partnering with service providers and taking a phased approach to introducing H@H services.

What Types of Services Can be Offered

There is almost no end to the ways the Hospital at Home toolkit can be adapted and applied. Implementation can be tailored to meet the unique demands of different rural settings. Some of the applications include:

  1. Inpatient Care at Home: This component is focused on patients who need hospital admission but could be safely treated at home. The model includes comprehensive services such as clinical care, dietary services, lab tests, and radiology, all provided at the patient’s home. Hospitals must apply for a Medicare waiver and be accepted by CMS in order to offer this service.
  2. Outpatient Therapy at Home: This program addresses the need for physical therapy for patients unable to travel frequently to the hospital. By bringing therapy services to patients’ homes, the model improves patient compliance and health outcomes. It also provides a new revenue stream for the hospital through outpatient billing, which is supported by existing Medicare regulations.
  3. Primary Care at Home: This modern-day house call model can be offered through a hospital’s rural health clinic. It’s helpful to find an existing practitioner who is ready to transition their practice to visiting patient homes. This service enhances continuity of care for patients with chronic conditions, ensuring they receive regular medical attention without the need to travel.
  4. Infusion Services at Home: The same hospital at home tools can be used to bring chemotherapy infusion or other medication infusion services to patients in their homes. Many patients appreciate the need for receiving the drugs they need in a more comfortable environment.

The hospital-at-home model represents a significant advancement in rural healthcare that addresses long-standing access issues. By bringing comprehensive care directly to patients’ homes, this model may improve health outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and provide a sustainable approach for rural healthcare providers.

Most hospitals will need a partner that can provide all the necessary program components or assemble and manage all the third-party providers on the hospital’s behalf. CHC offers H@H services in partnership with Resilient Healthcare Corporation to help with approvals, implementation and operations.

By , SVP Information Technology & Security and Privacy Officer June 11, 2024 Financial Performance, Operational Improvement, Critical Access and Rural Hospitals, Strategic Direction
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