The concept of treating “hospitalized” patients at home could play a more prominent role in the delivery of hospital services in the coming years.
Hospital at home programs have been around for decades but took on greater importance when COVID-19 began filling hospital beds. With many communities experiencing a shortage of beds, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued an “acute hospital care at home waiver” in November of 2020 to help compensate for the bed shortage and encourage home programs. Now that the COVID crisis has passed, health care interests are not necessarily moving away from the idea of providing hospital-like care to some patients in their own homes.
The case for hospital care at home can be compelling. Some communities – especially those in rural areas – lack hospital beds or even hospitals at all; recovery at home eliminates the risk of hospital-acquired infections; and one study found that patients who received their hospital care at home were “discharged” from care faster and experienced fewer post-discharge emergency department visits and hospital readmissions. The concept of hospital care at home is already in use in other countries and one analysis suggests that hospital care at home could account for 25 percent of what Medicare currently spends on care in health care facilities by 2025.
Learn more about hospital care at home – what it is, how it works, its benefits and its drawbacks, and more – from the New York Times article “Your Next Hospital Bed Might Be at Home.”