Thursday, February 29, 2024

What the Hospital at Home Movement Means for the Future of Healthcare

The healthcare industry is constantly innovating. The latest is the hospital-at-home movement, providing acute care for patients at home. It improves health, increases patient satisfaction, and saves the industry money. The question is, why hasn’t it happened sooner?

What is the Hospital at Home Movement?

The hospital-at-home movement was introduced in the 1970s, but it gained traction during the COVID-19 pandemic. It helped keep patients out of hospitals and allowed providers to meet demand. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an emergency policy in 2020 to permit hospital services in private residences. 

The COVID health emergency has since been lifted, but Hospital at Home orders are still in place. More hospitals joined the movement. It meets the health needs of baby boomers and prevents hospitals from spending billions of dollars to build new facilities. 

It also increases patient health and satisfaction and lowers mortality rates. 

Why Did It Take So Long? 

Hospital-at-home programs have been studied for nearly 50 years. Their benefits outweigh their disadvantages. So why weren’t they adopted sooner?

Experts state that the movement was delayed for economic reasons. Most H@H programs require upfront investments to cover new technology and additional personnel. Hospitals will invest if they are confident they will see a return. 

Previously, no single-payer came forward with enough enrollees to cover the hospitals’ investments. Returns may be possible if all payers agree to reimburse the hospital for the service. However, a lack of coordination made this goal too difficult to realize. 

The Acute Hospital Care at Home Waiver authorized reimbursement for a substantial amount of the hospitals’ upfront investment. The move made it easier for private players to adapt to the movement. The more private payers that join, the more upfront costs spread around. 

The increased funding and confidence mean it’s likely the program will continue after the temporary waiver expires in December 2024. 

How to Avoid Similar Issues in the Future

The healthcare industry can avoid the delay of beneficial bills with the following actions:

  • Commit to Reimbursement: A commitment to reimbursement from a large and influential player can move a bill forward. These include commercial payers and self-insured employers with a large share of the hospital’s patients. 
  • Education: Sharing the best practices for the design and implementation of valuable medical programs will motivate informed parties to act. 
  • Professional and Social Consensus: Professional and social consensus can increase confidence in a program and reduce uncertainty. Positive study outcomes and endorsements from reputable medical associations can provide an improved outlook on a program. 
Is Hospital at Home the future of healthcare?
Is Hospital at Home the future of healthcare?

The Hospital at Home program will improve the face of healthcare. It may have been late coming, but thanks to the CMS waiver, providers and patients say, better late than never. It’s certainly a move in the right direction.