Provider Spotlight: Dr. Michael Hake, Dignity Health

When a pleasant 60-year-old gentleman was admitted to the hospital with a debilitating case of cellulitis to his right leg, he knew it would be a long stay. After nearly four weeks in the hospital and several surgeries, the usually chipper patient grew disgruntled and expressed a desire to leave the hospital. 

After discussing solutions with the patient, hospital physicians and case management, the patient was referred to Dignity Health’s Home Recovery Care program, which provided a favorable alternative. The patient was transferred home with remote patient monitoring, twice-daily visits from an acute care registered nurse and telehealth rounds with Michael Hake, MD. With Home Recovery Care, the patient continued his medication and daily lab drawings from the comfort of his home. 

“His smile returned almost immediately,” Dr. Hake said. “He often expressed his gratitude for the level of care we were able to provide outside the walls of the hospital. Hospital administration and case management greatly appreciated our willingness and ability to help open an inpatient bed.” 

The benefits for both the patient and physician are what first drew Dr. Hake to program. He served Dignity Home Recovery Care for the Phoenix East Valley Hospital for the last year, and as site medical director for the past five months.  

“It was a definite change of pace from my usual workload as a hospitalist. It is satisfying to be able to spend a greater amount of time with each patient to conduct a thorough interview and assessment, and to provide education without feeling rushed.” 

Dr. Hake believes in Home Recovery Care because it is a “win” for everyone: the patient, the hospital, the providers and medical staff. Patients can enjoy the comforts of home while receiving hospital-level treatment. Hospitals save money and providers and nurses can spend more time engaging in fulfilling encounters with their patients. The patient’s healing experience is more positive because they are in a familiar environment surrounded by loved ones.  

“This plays a major role in the healing process, likely just as much as the direct medical care we provide. They can enjoy their own bed without the multiple nighttime interruptions that occur in the hospital.”  

Additionally, nurses can devote more time to one encounter at the patient’s home without being called into another room or otherwise distracted by the fast-paced environment of a hospital. 

“Home Recovery Care absolutely allows for more of a work-life balance and a calmer work environment that is much less prone to lead to burnout. It is also immensely satisfying to see patients and family members express gratitude for all the services and help we provide,” Dr. Hake said. “Furthermore, it lowers readmission rates, which is a victory for everyone.” 

Even the transition to telehealth has been positive. Dr. Hake finds telehealth encounters are generally more relaxed, especially when conducting virtual visits where patients can be surprised by one of his six cats joining the video call. “Considering that telemedicine has increasingly become more prevalent since the onset of the pandemic, it is exciting to be part of that revolution.” 

While interactions he shares with his patients are productive and effective, Dr. Hake said the work environment at Dignity Health in Arizona is even more efficient as physicians are working side by side with Recovery Care Coordinators to engage in real-time conversations about patient episodes. “This significantly helps our efficiency, as we can screen and assess many more patients than we otherwise would if we worked in separate locations. 

“I consider myself truly fortunate to be able to participate on the frontline of such a novel method of healthcare delivery; I do believe this is the future of medicine.”