Humana partners with DispatchHealth for hospital-at-home services
With hospitals contending with Covid patients and people reluctant to seek care at healthcare facilities, providers and payers are looking to usher in new care models. An increasingly popular option is hospital-at-home programs, and Humana is the latest payer to offer access to one.
The Louisville, Kentucky-based insurer announced Monday that it is teaming up with DispatchHealth to give its members access to hospital-level care at home. The services will initially be available in Denver and Tacoma, Washington, with plans to expand in Arizona, Texas and Nevada later this year, said Mark Prather, CEO of Denver-based DispatchHealth, in an email.
Humana members, who meet the admission criteria, will have access to an on-call DispatchHealth medical team, which includes an internal medicine physician and a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. The advanced care program includes remote monitoring and daily visits from the medical team, including bedside nursing. Further, patients have access to an emergency call button.
“Our experience has been that consumers, as well as their caregivers, prefer care in the home — when that makes sense — in familiar surroundings,” said Susan Diamond, president of Humana’s home business, in an email response to questions. “We see better outcomes, including lower hospital readmission rates, and a lower cost of providing care when patients are treated at home.”
DispatchHealth offers an array of services, including, imaging, lab, ultrasound as well as administration of IV fluids and sutures or staples.
The company launched its hospital-at-home program in December 2019, and it now offers the services in 15 states. A majority of the patients in its program are seniors, many with multiple health needs who often lack transportation, company CEO Prather said. These patients are also among the most susceptible to severe Covid-19 illnesses and death.
“The pandemic has magnified the importance of caring for vulnerable patients in the safe environment of their homes in place of traveling to access care in a facility,” he said.
In addition, caring for patients in their own homes gives physicians and nurses more information about their patients than they can glean in a hospital room or the ER.
“They are able to spend far more time with patients and get to know them and their health concerns much better in that context of the home,” Prather said.
Humana will cover all services provided by DispatchHealth for all plans. If a patient requires a transfer to a hospital, those services are also covered by the plan, similar to how other facility-based transfers occur today, Diamond said.
Aside from payers, major health systems, like Johns Hopkins Medicine and Mount Sinai Health System, have implemented these programs as research shows that they can reduce cost, healthcare use and readmissions.
Recognizing the necessity of extending care beyond the hospital, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services established the Acute Hospital Care At Home program in November last year. This program gives hospitals regulatory flexibility to treat eligible patients in their homes.
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