‘Hospital at Home’ could be a solution to prevent packed hospitals

Capacity issues aren’t hitting Southwest Florida health systems yet, and there is a way to solve the problem before it starts.

It’s called “Hospital at Home.” It’s exactly as it sounds: Certain patients can receive hospital-level care from the comfort of their own homes.

But there are some restrictions. Only certain types of patients and conditions qualify for the program. That list includes more than 60 different conditions, including congestive heart failure, pneumonia and COPD.

Technology such as continuous monitoring makes “Hospital at Home” possible.

“Right now, NCH is fine on capacity, both in the ICUs as well as on the floors,” said Dr. David Lindner, who is the head of the NCH COVID-19 response team.

If things change after the holidays, Lindner said the hospital has a plan.

“Our surge plan initially took us up to well over 1,000 patients, which obviously well exceeds the capacity of Naples Community Hospital. We’re a 715-bed facility,” Lindner explained. “If necessary, we’d bring the tents back, which we never had to use.”

NCH and hospitals around the country have a new option to try before cases escalate.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will allow hospitals to treat some patients in their homes.

“IV, antibiotics, oxygen, close monitoring, lots of lab tests, doctors, nurses,” said Dr. David Levine, with Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts. “All of our patients wear a little patch on their chest, for example. And that enables us to understand their heart rate, their respiratory rate, their positioning. It enables us to detect falls on a continuous basis.”

Levine, who studies and participates in hospital at home programs says, the program also improves patient outcomes.

“They end up getting readmitted less often. They move a lot more, and they really like the experience of getting care at home,” Levine said.

NCH doesn’t have a “Hospital at Home” program, but it’s something that could be considered.

“If that becomes something that we have to explore, then, we will do so,” Lindner said.

Florida’s Mayo Clinic locations fully utilize the “Hospital at Home” care model.

Lee Health told us it has a similar program called “House Calls,” and it is researching “Hospital at Home” models.

Meanwhile, a study found that home hospital care reduced costs by 40%. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recent announcement also makes home hospital care fully reimbursable.

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Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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