The Growth Channel

How new technology is bringing post-acute care into patients’ homes—and cutting costs

by Jai Seth and Sebastian Beckmann

With studies attributing 44% of total episodic spending on post-discharge care, it is no surprise that post-acute care (PAC) has received an outsized share of attention as planners search for savings under new payment models. As part of this effort, planners are looking critically at PAC sites: Although skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and inpatient rehab facilities (IRFs) account for 67% of PAC spending, technological advancements are, in part, improving the efficacy of other PAC sites, particularly home health.

What do consumers want from post-acute care?

Read on to learn how you can use technology to reduce your PAC spending by moving patients to their home for care.

New technologies broaden scope of at-home PAC

The continuing evolution of technology has influenced the scope of PAC services that can be offered at the patient's home. For instance, while phone-based solutions play a key role in the efficacy of home health, they do not satisfy the needs of patients who require more intensive, coordinated care. Such patients, including those with heart failure, COPD, or pneumonia, may require access to nursing and increased monitoring—intermittent monitoring of patient health data may not be sufficient to adequately avoid acute side-effects and readmissions.

However, as more integrated and complex technology has made its way into home health, the scope of PAC services that can be provided at home has broadened. For instance, Medically Home, a health care technology and services company, has developed a program that transforms the patient's home into a temporary hospital for 30 days. The patient receives a hospital bed, as well as any health monitoring device applicable to his or her PAC needs. The main value proposition of such a program is its integration of all of the various technologies and telehealth solutions into one platform. Medically Home's platform provides 24/7 access to the patient's care team and has a network of doctors, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and medical suppliers who are available for same- or next-day visits at the patient's home.

Since this platform and similar ones provide real-time patient health data to the care team, symptoms are caught earlier and interventions delivered sooner. In addition, recovering at home also helps patients avoid stressful and lengthy travel, and improves overall patient satisfaction.

Evolving technology also affects health care overall—and may curb costs

Moreover, while technology and innovation has had a significant affect on PAC, they may have a broader impact on health care at large. For example, the Hospital at Home (HaH) concept parallels the post-acute care-at-home model to bring hospital-level care into the home environment for a wider range of services. Pioneered by Johns Hopkins University, HaH is one of the most widely studied innovations in health care—a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials showed a 38% lower six-month mortality rate for HaH patients than hospitalized patients, while early trials have found that total costs of HaH care were 32% lower than a traditional hospital.  

Some large systems with innovative and visionary leaders are successfully implementing HaH model. For instance, Presbyterian Health Services has implemented the HaH model for its Medicare Advantage patients, and Cedars Sinai Medical Center is implementing it in its ACO. As incentives drive health care stakeholders to reduce cost, improve care, and increase patient satisfaction, providing patients alternatives to hospital or nursing home-based treatment will become imperative.

What do consumers want from post-acute care?

Patient choice is critical in post-acute and long-term care. To learn what patients and their families want when making that choice, we conducted a national consumer survey measuring preferences on everything from care delivery to decor. Four major lessons stood out.

Get our infographic to find out if high-quality specialization matters more to consumers than general provider quality, why patients want one-stop convenience, and more.

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