By Dawn Carter
If you’ve worked remotely for the past year, would a $ 30,000 raise get you back to the office? In A recent poll of 3,000 employees in dozens of large US companies, the vast majority of respondents said they would forego the large raise if they could continue to work in pajamas.
I’ve spent over 25 years in health strategy and planning, and that was one of the most remarkable surveys I’ve ever seen – albeit not on HR, because health is one of the few industries that works remotely never found its way during the pandemic.
Instead, I think the most pressing lesson for health planners is how – and where – services will be delivered in the future. Call it the “Covid Effect”: Just as employees discovered the benefits of working from home last year, we saw a large number of new patients discover the benefits of so-called hospital at home programs.
Hospital at Home is not exactly a new model, but so far it is relatively unknown to patients. That’s because limited, early experiments suffered from low participation rates – only 7 to 15 patients per month. But those numbers got a huge boost over the past year as hospitals struggled to maintain inpatient capacity for only the most extreme Covid cases. the Association of American Medical Colleges says interest in the Hospital at Home “exploded” during the pandemic, and health systems from Boston to Cleveland to Seattle launched or expanded in-home programs that served thousands and thousands of new families.
It can be difficult to put that genie back in the bottle. If staff don’t return to the office for $ 30,000, what could potentially lure patients back to the traditional hospital setting after experiencing the benefits of home healing?
I have long argued that consumerism is driving healthcare transformation more than most planners realize. From banking to retail, consumers have shown they are shifting their spending to providers who can meet their needs from the comfort of their own home. Some health planners may think they are immune to this trend because health services can only be provided in a clinical setting, but Hospital at Home has proven this to be wrong – and for the first time consumers are beginning to understand their options.
The health trifecta
As more patients experience the benefits of home healing – quiet rooms, home cooking, better sleep, more time with family and pets – we anticipate demand will increase. Just as many employees say they will never return to the full-time office routine, we expect increasing resistance to inpatient admission from those who understand the alternative.
For the forward-thinking health manager, this is an opportunity to rethink assumptions. Just as Covid has proven that working at home can be a win-win for many businesses, we now understand that healing at home can be a win-win.to win for hospitals: In addition to higher patient satisfaction, the model offers better health outcomes at lower costs for the health system. This is a rare trifecta indeed.
From resumption to bed rest, many studies have shown that patient outcomes are better at home in the hospital. Take, for example, the key metric of 30 day ED visits. In New York’s Mount Sinai Health System, emergency room visits for patients at home have been cut roughly in half compared to hospitalized patients (5.8% vs. 11.9%). And UnityPoint Health of West Des Moines, Iowa cut its 30-day ED rate to just 4% for home patients – with a satisfaction rate of 98.9%.
In terms of costs, the data are also encouraging. In a long-term program at Johns Hopkins, studies have shown that total cost for at-home patients was almost a third less than for inpatients (USD 5,081 vs. USD 7,480). In Albuquerque, NM, Presbyterian Healthcare Services adopted the Johns Hopkins Model and saw Costs go down by 19% in Medicaid and Medicare Advantage patients while reporting similar or improved results.
With so many selling points, the home hospital model certainly seems to be gaining traction in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet another reason why we believe the strength of the trend is still underestimated: In multi-vendor markets, the first hospital-at-home service provider can have a rare competitive advantage.
From technology to readmission rates, consumers have a hard time understanding some of the esoteric benchmarks that set one hospital apart from another. But the chance of high-quality medical care in your own four walls? Every consumer can understand that. Like roadside billboards showing waiting times in the emergency room, a robust menu of hospital options at home could be the easy-to-understand trademark that motivates some consumers to choose Hospital A over Hospital B.
In short, we see Hospital at Home as the emerging trend that will literally redraw the health care map in many communities. That makes it a trend that no CEO can ignore.
Dawn Carter is the founder and senior partner at Ascending health advisor, a Top 25 Healthcare Strategy, Planning, and Feasibility Consulting Firm
Thank You For Reading!