Agility in Action: Taking Hospital-level Care Home amid a Global Pandemic
By Travis Messina, CEO
Despite old criticisms about our healthcare system’s struggles with change, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that, with its back against the wall, the American healthcare industry is very capable of adapting to urgent issues while maintaining high-quality patient care.
Truthfully, the pace of healthcare transformation has always been slow – that is, until 2020. But, working alongside our forward-thinking partner organizations, Contessa has been able to play a unique role in catalyzing care delivery in a way that may have never been possible without the shift in pace and patient needs that COVID-19 has brought.
Mount Sinai Health System, a longtime Contessa partner located in the heart of New York City, contacted us in mid-March as the virus began infecting New Yorkers at an alarming rate. It was clear that a surge was imminent. Amid a looming capacity crisis, we needed to rapidly evolve our model – which typically helps patients avoid hospital admissions altogether – to also provide coordinated, at-home health services for patients who had already begun treatment inside the walls of the hospital.
Within 10 days of the initial outreach, we were moving Mount Sinai patients out of the hospital and into their homes. These patients saw their risk of infection dramatically decrease, while comfort and satisfaction increased. Meanwhile, the health system suddenly had more inpatient beds, caregivers and resources available to treat the most critical patients. Soon after, we also began accepting patients who tested positive for the virus into the Mount Sinai at Home program.
Without question, our actions are saving lives. I’ve never been prouder of the work we are doing.
But the work is far from over. Having seen our strategy effectively treat patients at the national epicenter of the global pandemic, other health systems are implementing our model as part of their surge preparedness. The model we developed at Mount Sinai has evolved into our new Completing Hospitalization at Home program, which allows us to enroll patients after they have been stabilized in the hospital for 1-2 nights, yet still need hospital-level care. It allows hospitals to increase capacity during periods of surge demand as they transfer patients to the “home hospital,” freeing up beds for new patients of higher acuity.
Taking care of patients in their location of choice has always been highly effective, but it’s even more important under the unique circumstances we find ourselves in today. Two-thirds of our partners have expanded their at-home clinical models in response to the COVID pandemic. Places like CommonSpirit Health, the Marshfield Clinic and Prisma Health have expanded to offer Completing Hospitalization at Home, while Ascension Saint Thomas and the Allegheny Health Network added the program to new hospitals.
The current circumstances require us to stay flexible and to constantly tailor our model to the unique needs of each market we serve. The growth we’ve seen in the past few months is reflective of our partners’ trust in meeting those needs, and of their patients’ appreciation for the opportunity to stay home to receive hospital-level treatment. And, our model is proving to scale across many specialties that would continue to allow vulnerable patients to stay home to receive care.
We are honored to help America’s health systems safely treat patients, including those diagnosed with COVID-19, in a setting that best matches their needs – the home. Our partnerships are another proof point that the American healthcare system is more than capable of rising to the occasion. We have seen success in our delivery of care in the home during a pandemic, and we continue to improve outcomes when treating patients through home recovery care.