In the past nearly two years, MetroHealth has treated more than 900 patients through its "Hospital in the Home" program, which aims to provide high-touch care for patients where they're most comfortable, with the support of technology.
Envisioned long before the pandemic and formalized during the crisis, the program has proven to be an effective new way to deliver care for patients who are interested in that model and in cases when providers deem it appropriate.
"The hospital at home is taking care of patients at home at their convenience," said Dr. Nabil Chehade, MetroHealth's executive vice president, Chief Population and Digital Health. "We leverage technology as much as we can by monitoring the patient in the convenience of their home from a centralized location by a nursing and provider teams, but also the hospital at home is ready to deploy resources to the patient home when needed."
The health system has been working to build out the infrastructure to continue growing the capacity and reach of Hospital in the Home.
Michael Dalton, vice president of virtual care enterprise for MetroHealth, said it's important for the system to be committed for the long term, because the census of hospital-level patients seeking care at home may fluctuate over time.
"As a continuous improvement process, it's really necessary to be able to bring in additional patients, build out your level of comfort and quality and safety that we have built into the program," he said.
Most recently, MetroHealth's move to become the majority holder of the Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio (VNA of Ohio) serves the goal of long-term programmatic sustainability, Chehade said. The nonprofit home health, hospice and mental healthcare provider (a member of the Holmdel, New Jersey-based Visiting Nurse Association Health Group) serves 11 counties in Northeast Ohio.
The partnership dovetails with a waiver MetroHealth received last year from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The Acute Hospital Care at Home waiver allows MetroHealth to provide a hospital level of care at home, which involves more complexity and a lot more protocol, including requiring in-person visits. MetroHealth's move to expand its formal partnership with VNA of Ohio will support those efforts, Chehade said.
"One of the main drivers to accelerate that conversation with the VNA is because of what we want to expand in the Hospital in the Home program," he said.