CMS launches hospital-at-home program to free up hospital capacity


Atrium Health, a large health system in the Southeast, ramped up a hospital-at-home initiative last spring for its 10 hospitals in the Charlotte, N.C., area, in just 2 weeks. However, it had been working on the project for some time before the pandemic struck. Focusing mostly on COVID-19 patients, the initiative reduced the COVID-19 patient load by 20%-25% in Atrium’s hospitals.

Medically Home, the HaH infrastructure company, said in a news release that it “enables health systems to establish new hospital-at-home services in as little as 30 days.” Medically Home has partnered in this venture with Huron Consulting Group, which has about 200 HaH-trained consultants, and Cardinal Health, a large global medical supplies distributor.

Mr. Karjian said in an interview that he expects private insurers to follow CMS’ example, as they often do. “We think this decision will cause not only CMS but private insurers to cover hospital at home after the pandemic, if it becomes the standard of care, because patients have better outcomes when treated at home,” he said.

Asked for his view on why the CMS specified that patients could be admitted to an HaH only from emergency departments or inpatient settings, Mr. Karjian said that the CMS wants to make sure that patients have access to brick-and-mortar hospital care if that’s what they need. Also, he noted, this model is new to most hospitals, so the CMS wants to make sure it starts “with all the safety guardrails” in place.

Overall, Mr. Karjian said, “This is an exciting development for patients across the country. What CMS has done is terrific in terms of letting patients get the care they want, where they want it, and get the benefit of better outcomes while the nation is going through this capacity crunch for hospital beds.”

A version of this article originally appeared on Medscape.com.


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