Decades ago, you could be treated by a doctor in the comfort of your own home. Today, the house call is making a return as hospital at home programs gain popularity and can treat more complex patients.
While some level of virtual care at home has been around for years, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated its adoption. Exemplifying this shift is a strategic partnership between providers Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente, and digital health company Medically Home.
To explore this partnership, along with the rise and future of hospital at home programs, the Medical Alley Association gathered these three organizations for a webinar titled “You’ll See the Doctor Now: Hospital at Home.”
Joining this event was Raphael Rakowski, Executive Chairman for Medically Home, Stephen Parodi, an infectious disease doctor for Kaiser Permanente and Executive Vice President for the Permanente Federation, and AJ Dunn, the Chair of Advanced Care at Home and Digital Practice Strategy with Mayo Clinic.
An Innovative Partnership
With Kaiser Permanente and Mayo Clinic being two of the most forward thinking and progressive health systems in the country, they both knew that hospital at home programs were the next major step in virtual care. As they began exploring this method of care, a partnership with Medically Home was born.
Rakowski explained that Medically Home provides the tools and software to allow higher acuity patients to receive care in their home, while the hospital systems provide the physicians and caregivers. Some of these tools include two-way audio and video communication and vitals monitoring. Together, the three organizations have led the market in creating this new model of care.
“People always ask me, ‘When is the market for hospital at home going to arrive?’” Rakowski said. “I always answer the same way. If you decide to do the hospital at home application for your patients, the market has arrived. You can’t wait for something to happen – it’s you that’s making it happen. The real power of the combination of Mayo and Kaiser has resulted in an extraordinary increase in the model, because Mayo and Kaiser have decided to do and lead it.”
Exploring a New Model of Care
After laying the groundwork of what hospital at home is, the panel dove into how they see assets being realigned toward patients, as well as how they see this model of care changing. For Rakowski and Medically Home, he sees the greatest value in rural care. Often, rural health systems have a severe lack of resources for the population and Rakowski sees the hospital at home system as a way to fix these issues. By decentralizing the care, rural populations can access specialists such as oncologists without leaving their home.
Dunn noted that the pandemic unlocked the opportunity of digital health for the Mayo Clinic by pulling away barriers like payment issues and patient acceptance. Although the Mayo Clinic had been discussing digital health options for some time, healthcare providers need much more time to adopt changes compared to other industries who were able to integrate digital technology quickly. Suddenly, due to COVID-19, the Mayo Clinic was able to demonstrate what they have been talking about for years and make real strides.
Given these steps forward, the topic then turned to the question of what needs to be done to have these changes stay in place. Dunn believes that the key to ensuring success is establishing effective guard rails so that care is being provided appropriately and with cultural competence.
Each of the panelists acknowledged that significant changes in regulations for the workforce would be needed to make this model successful. Parodi noted that having doctors going into the home isn’t always practical, and alternative practitioners will be needed, along with new regulations to allow those professionals to care for patients.
“I think it’s likely, if we map out the career fields that would be necessary to make this wildly successful in the future, there are several career fields that don’t exist yet,” Dunn said.
While this type of advanced care at home is still relatively new, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, and Medically Home have a strong vision of what the future of this program can look like and are pioneering the field. These three organizations are just one example of the partnerships and innovation that come out of Medical Alley, The Global Epicenter of Health Innovation and Care®.