Building a New Model
Throughout the current Pandemic, the healthcare and telecom industries partnered to deliver new virtual health care delivery modalities that fundamentally changed the business of healthcare operations in terms of patient experience, operational efficiencies, and clinical effectiveness. Growing availability of Consumer Digital Health capabilities in Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) coupled with Provider initiatives in primary care re-design and Payer wellness services (i.e., nutrition, diet, and behavioral health incentivization) are paving the way for new opportunities to deliver virtual health including the hospital at home.
Answering the Call: Partnering
Two of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare sector in the U.S. are escalating costs of care and growing complexity of care. Despite the early promises of greater efficiencies through investments in electronic health records (EHRs), the industry continues to experience increasing variable costs due to a variety of business and technical factors. When combined with more sophisticated diagnostic and treatment options, hospital leadership are exploring alternative innovations, recognizing that the provincial nature of centralizing healthcare services in a facility setting is not sustainable. This is precisely where the telecom and entertainment industries can partner with healthcare to answer this call to action.
What’s the Opportunity?
In-patient care is predominately built around housing the patient in an environment where advanced monitoring and expert interventional services are readily available. Orchestration of services follows highly-regulated workflows designed to maximize patient safety and drive superior outcomes. In this regard, the current model has worked extremely well, with readily-available patient access to complex care services including highly-specialized equipment. However, while this model remains very relevant for extremely sick patients, the Pandemic revealed potential opportunities to provide care at home for non-acute patients, where qualifying morbidity and co-morbidities don’t require such intensive intervention, without sacrificing quality. It is this opportunity that is of interest to operational leaders in healthcare, and interestingly, this approach has been happening for some time via intensive care unit (ICU) remote monitoring – it just took the accelerator effect of the Pandemic to reveal the broader opportunity.
The so-called “hospital at home” recognizes that the industry can flip today’s care model for non-acute patient services by admitting the patient in the comfort, convenience, and familiarity of their home, and then rendering care services in situ using a repertoire of products and solutions via partnerships with the telecom and entertainment industry. The foundation might include but not be limited to the following:
• Reliable and high-performing broadband connectivity (increasingly favoring 5G services owing to the demands dictated by high-fidelity imaging and/or the volume of patient generated healthcare data);
• Hardened security and privacy solutions (to ensure compliance to HIPAA and alignment to provider care operation regulations);
• Cloud services including near premises point of presence edge computing (depending on need);
• Omni-channel end-point devices featuring configurable interfaces for personalization and customization;
• Applications or “APPs” prescribed for patient use;
• Internet of Things (IoT) designed to monitor the patient’s environment, activities (i.e., mobility) and/or patterns of behavioral (i.e., trips to the bathroom), and;
• Specialized devices, which may be furnished by visiting clinicians (i.e., mobile imaging/mobile ultrasound).
There’s No Place Like Home
Orchestration of early intervention warning systems via remote patient monitoring coupled with scheduled visitation by clinicians and the growing availability of affordable, FDA-approved wireless medical devices such as software as a medical device are a strong inducement to Payers and Providers to offer hospital at home services to the communities they serve. Instead of conducting operations based on facility bed utilization, this new model has the potential to expand the reach of Providers and Payers beyond traditional care modalities while reducing costs and expenses. Given the new reality of growing competition from new entrants such as that from “Big Tech”, today’s healthcare Providers can seize on deregulation of services to untangle care pathways that are largely anchored in the axioms of the prior century thus building a new approach where health intervention is at home.