Physician Spotlight: Dr. Sowjanya Bapani, Marshfield Clinic Health System
Dr. Sowjanya Bapani’s journey as a hospitalist working with the Marshfield Clinic Home Recovery Care program began in 2016, when the program was still new. Dr. Bapani shares that at first, providers were hesitant about adopting the innovative program. “It was a challenge to find that right patient [clinically] to send home and also the balance between that and whether things will work at home,” she says.
This was especially true, she explained, because the area in Wisconsin that Marshfield Clinic serves is largely rural with an aging population. “They have a lot of medical problems—a lot of complex conditions,” she noted.
The Home Recovery Care program was tasked with developing processes and communications to address the unique needs of this patient population. Dr. Bapani shares that as the program grew, so did the available resources to support it, including a virtual care unit to support monitoring of patients. “[W]e are confident that even though these patients have complex issues, we can safely bring them home,” she says.
Along with increased confidence in executing safe, effective care in the home, Dr. Bapani also expressed that she’s seen improved utilization of resources in the home compared to inpatient hospital care. In the hospital, she says that routine use services like telemetry and daily lab draws don’t necessarily produce different outcomes than the ones she observes in the Home Recovery Care program. “At home, we are mindful of these things; we are actually eliminating many of them,” she says. “It makes you think a little more critically as a doctor.”
Patients who are treated in this hospital-level care at home program see concrete benefits as well. “When you see patients in the hospital,” Dr. Bapani said, “they are different than when you see them in the home. At home, they are much more confident that they can take care of themselves. They want to get better. They keep pushing themselves.”
Dr. Bapani thinks one simple reason this is true is that patients rest better at home. “They’re in their own home, sleeping in their own bed. That makes a world of difference.”
Another key point, she said, is that many of her older patients become very confused in unfamiliar hospital surroundings. “It’s better for these patients to go back to their familiar environment,” she notes.
The quality of care and positive patient experience leads many of her patients to become repeat visitors to the program, Dr. Bapani shares. After many years seeing the overall success of the program as it has grown, she says, “I’m thankful to be a part of such a unique thing that we have. Hopefully it will continue to grow, and we can do some wonders.”