- Intermountain Healthcare has launched a service to provide hospital-level care in patients' homes for certain conditions like congestive heart failure, infections and some cancer diagnoses.
- The service is in partnership with the system's value-based care spinoff Castell and builds on previous efforts to move more treatment into the home. It was accelerated by the pandemic and preparation for potential surges of COVID-19 patients, according to a statement published Thursday.
- Eligible patients will go through orientation at a hospital first and then receive in-person and virtual check-ins from nurses and doctors. They will be provided with a remote monitoring kit as well as other home health equipment suited to their diagnosis.
As waves of the novel coronavirus have stressed hospital resources in hotspots, the trend of moving acute care to the home has intensified, aided by relaxed regulations from CMS.
But the movement has been underway for quite some time now. Health systems like Ascension, CommonSpirit and Highmark Health have signed joint venture deals with Nashville-based startup Contessa to move patients who don't require continuous monitoring out of the hospital setting while still receiving necessary care.
It can be a win-win: moving low-acuity care out of the hospital can save providers money on overhead costs like housekeeping and meals. And patients generally prefer to receive care in their own homes when possible.
Castell Medical Director Josh Romney said in a statement it can allow for higher quality treatment, too.
"When caregivers are able to actually see and treat a patient in their home environment, they gain a better understanding of ways to help the patient make their daily tasks safer, healthier, or easier," Romney said.
The standard at-home equipment patients will receive are a blood pressure monitor, pulse oximeter, cellular-enabled digital tablet and a digital scale. Other devices could include a continuous heart rate monitor and oxygen sensor. The equipment will transmit vital signs to a remote monitoring center via Bluetooth.
Intermountain formed Castell in July with the aim of consulting with payers and other providers to improve value-based payment reforms.
In 2018, the Salt Lake City-based system also launched its virtual hospital system, giving a major boost to its home health efforts. It expanded the service in March 2019 with Intermountain at Home, which focused on palliative care patients.