Some people who have asthma, pneumonia, dehydration and other pressing medical conditions will be able to get treatment and checkups at home through a new Chandler Regional Medical Center program.
CommonSpirit Health announced recently it is introducing the new hospital-level home care operation, Home Recovery Care, which will allow many patients to avoid repeat visits to the hospital.
The Catholic healthcare nonprofit was created through the alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health, and CommonSpirit Health hopes to expand its service throughout all of Dignity’s hospitals.
This type of hospital-at-home model has existed for a long time, but it has not seen widespread use.
Home Recovery Care’s complex outpatient care management provides better health outcomes, boosts patients’ satisfaction and reduces re-admission rates to hospitals, among other benefits, according to a news release.
When a patient is evaluated at the emergency room at Chandler Regional Medical Center, he or she can get visits as needed from a nurse in their home and regular physician checkups through video visits over the course of 30 days.
Dr. Yagnesh Patel, vice president of medical affairs for Dignity Health – East Valley, and a longtime internal medicine specialist, said it is an “interesting program” with various benefits.
“A lot of patients desire to be treated at home rather than a hospital,” Patel said. “Being in a hospital is stressful to a lot of people. There is a convenience factor at home.
“All the anecdotal statements we’ve heard from other patients (say) patients do recover quicker because they are at home. They feel much more safe and secure in their own environment other than being out of the house.”
Patel noted “all sorts of stuff that happens in a hospital that cannot happen at home, cross-contamination from other patients.”
“We try to prevent it. There’s still a risk,” he added.
The program will likely relieve some of the constraints at Chandler Regional Hospital, where there is high patient volume at times, he added.
People with certain conditions will be able to take advantage of the Home Recovery Care program, but they are not obligated to use it.
The goal is to later expand it to patients who go to Dignity Health Mercy Gilbert Medical Center and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.
Nurses will visit patients at their homes once a day or once every few days at their homes and be on call to address any issues. Home Recovery Care will contract with nurses at a home health company to offer the services, Patel said.
“When we send a nurse (to a) home, that nurse has to be trained to a certain degree to answer questions, to be able to monitor the recovery of the patient, changes in therapy,” he said.
Patel said some conditions this new service will be ideal to handle are skin and soft tissue infections, as well as pneumonia, congestive heart failures and exacerbations of asthma. The diagnostic work of figuring out what is wrong with a patient will first have to be done in the hospital.
Judith Karshmer, dean of the Edson College of Nursing and Health Innovation at Arizona State University, loves the idea of Home Recovery Care. She is a longtime psychiatric clinical nurse specialist.
“In a word, it’s brilliant,” Karshmer said. “It’s exactly where healthcare needs to be moving. You can heal better at home. You heal better with your friends, your family, your loved ones.”
She said the home healthcare also means “less wear and tear” on the hospitals, and patients will be exposed less often to “dangerous things in the hospital.”
“This is where I think healthcare is going,” Karshmer said. “In some ways, much of this was originally motivated by when a patient gets hospitalized and discharged, the changes in reimbursement policies.
“If a patient is readmitted within 30 days (to the hospital), that will be a payment reduction (from a health insurance company) to the hospital. It’s a game-changer for healthcare and I think it’s going to be the kind of thing that people are going to expect.”
Patients will feel more comfortable being ill in their own homes, she added.
“Any of us who have ever had to spend time in a hospital as a patient, it’s noisy, there’s a lot going on,” Karshmer said. “It’s not familiar. At least if you’re home you can tolerate a lot more. I think it’s amazingly wonderful.”
She predicted this type of home health care program will expand to more hospitals.
“It’s gonna take off,” Karshmer said. “We are going to see more and more of this. Hospitals are going to love the fact that they’re going to be able to have a connection with their patients.”
She said there will be some challenges to it and organizers need to carefully plan what types of conditions they will treat at home.
“These are the kinds of innovative approaches to the future of health care that we at Edson College really support,” Karshmer said. “It’s about the patient and it’s not about the provider.”
For now, Humana health insurance is the only health insurance company participating in the program, helping to cover some of patients’ costs through the service out of Chandler Regional Medical Center.
However, Chandler Regional Medical Center is negotiating with other health insurance companies and Medicare to try to determine payment mechanisms, Patel said.
“It’s innovative,” he said. “It is definitely the way of the future.”