home health

Hackensack Meridian Health Launches Hospital at Home Initiative

Pilot program offers acute care treatment at home for Medicare patients.

Hackensack Meridian Health has announced the launch of Hospital At Home at JFK University Medical Center in Edison, a program that delivers high-quality acute care in the home of a Medicare patient and may ultimately be scalable to the larger patient population.

“Healthcare continues to expand beyond the walls of the hospital and this new program will help us advance strategies to improve outcomes and patient satisfaction while making care more affordable,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health.

The program is created through a Medicare waiver, which permits hospitals to provide acute care at home to Medicare patients. The network will select patients based on factors that include diagnoses that often result in frequent and costly readmissions to hospitals: uncomplicated Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), pneumonia, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and cellulitis.

Initially the program will admit a few patients a week and provide the following services delivered in the home: two nursing visits daily; medications delivered to the home including infusions; rehab visits as needed; remote patient monitoring which includes pulse ox, blood pressure, heart rate, weight and temperature. Nutritious meals and home health support can be provided as needed.

The program was created during the COVID-19 pandemic to help hospitals struggling with bed capacity. In November 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a waiver called the Acute Hospital Care at Home Waiver allowing for hospitals to bill for acute care services that patients receive at home.

“We are proud to offer this innovative program to our community, a new approach that is showing great promise for improving outcomes, meeting the needs of our patients and continuing our efforts to transform care,” said Amie Thornton, chief hospital executive at JFK University Medical Center.

Research shows that these programs are at least as safe as inpatient care and result in improved clinical outcomes, higher rates of patient satisfaction and reduced healthcare costs. Patients have indicated that they want to receive care at home, especially during the pandemic. According to a recent survey, 85 percent of adults say it should be a high priority for the government to expand Medicare coverage for at-home health care.

Ultimately the network plans to expand the program to other hospitals once the pilot is proven successful. Additionally, Hackensack Meridian Health believes Hospital-at-Home can be scaled significantly to include patients who are not covered by Medicare.

“This program can also provide an excellent opportunity to expand care in underserved communities where transportation may be an issue,” Mr. Garrett said. “A major strategic priority of the network is to help reduce inequality in care delivery.”

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