Leverage Virtual Capabilities to Elevate Hospital at Home Programs

Hospital at home programs have been gradually increasing in number in recent years, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the shift to home health and virtual care greatly accelerated. Half of families are more likely to choose in-home care for their loved ones now than they were prior to the pandemic, and almost half of physicians use virtual health technologies to treat patients. Now that home is seen as an effective site of care, particularly for chronically ill patients, health systems are exploring how virtual capabilities, including remote monitoring devices, can support acute care at home.

Health care provider sitting at desk with keyboard looking at phone and medical images, representing remote monitoringThe hospital at home model, designed to deliver inpatient care in the home, was developed at Johns Hopkins Medicine in the 1990s. Application of the model led to cost savings and lower mortality rates. As care at home programs have evolved, so too have remote monitoring methods. In the beginning, patients self-reported by manually entering health data into a peripheral server and then reviewing those data with physicians at in-person appointments. Today, many remote devices are wearable and capable of real-time reporting and analysis without the need for in-person visits. Remote monitoring devices do not come in one shape or size, however. Current capabilities of devices available to be adopted by health systems include software platforms, remote patient monitoring devices, continuous glucose monitoring devices, heart rate monitoring devices and pulse oximeters.

Once a health system has chosen its desired type of remote monitoring technology, it must understand the capabilities of related devices. Key attributes of hospital at home technologies that should be considered when evaluating a remote monitoring device include:

  • EHR integration
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Interoperability
  • Platform customization
  • Device size and ease of use

An example of a successful program can be found at Atrium Health. The program serves patients who have been discharged but pose a high risk for readmission. It is designed as two triaging “floors”: a low-acuity virtual observation unit and a high-acuity virtual acute care unit. Early, positive results show that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the high-acuity virtual acute care unit saved 160 inpatient beds and avoided IP admission for 87% of participants.

On its own, the use of advanced remote monitoring technology will not be the determining factor in the success and viability of a hospital at home program. However, when the optimum technologies are deployed alongside a well-designed and effectively structured hospital at home program, they elevate the connectivity, breadth of services and sustainability of such programs.

Contact Sg2 today to learn more about leveraging virtual and remote monitoring programs to support hospital at home programs and what to consider when selecting technology.

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