- Nonprofit health system Intermountain announced an updated homecare program for its most complex and chronically ill patients. The program, called Intermountain at Home, aims to bring otherwise hospital-bound treatments and technologies into the homes of its most needy patients in hopes of providing comfortable care while reducing admissions.
- The program supports post-hospital, palliative and end-of-life patients and offers remote support and monitoring services. Last year, the Salt Lake City system announced a "virtual hospital" — an online service that provides patients with a digital appointment with their providers. Many of those services will be used, including virtual urgent care visits.
- Intermountain will be using Homespire, its joint venture with senior living company Lifesprk that aims to assist seniors and chronically-ill patients in continuing to live at home while receiving care.
The move could be cast as one step in the oft-forecast comeback of the house call, spurred by several factors including demand from an aging population that prefers to age in-home rather than make frequent visits to physician offices and ERs.
With that demand comes predictions of a multi-billion dollar market opportunity.
According to Intermountain, heart failure patients at their hospitals have an average stay of 4.6 days, with a 30-day readmission rate of 22%. The health system is hoping Intermountain At Home will help patients avoid hospitalization altogether.
On the less-acute end of the spectrum, one concern among patients, long-identified by physicians, is time spent with caregivers. House calls offer that opportunity. Los Angeles-based telemedicine company Heal told Healthcare Dive last year that its average visit is 28 minutes, compared to the national industry average of 13 minutes. One drawback for physicians is seeing fewer patients per day, though, ultimately financial losses could be offset by reductions to overhead costs.
Homecare results have also caught the attention of CMS, which has been testing primary care services at home through its Independence at Home demonstration. In its second year, CMS says the program saved Medicare more than $10 million.