Federal Change Offers Potential to Expand Access and Improve Outcomes
Today, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a waiver for Home Hospital services, providing reimbursement for those services and allowing more hospitals the flexibility to provide acute care services in the comfort of patients’ homes. Recent studies conducted within Mass General Brigham have shown that Home Hospital care can improve outcomes, while reducing costs – all while allowing the patient to remain in their home.
“Coverage of home hospital services is an incredibly important step to help bring safe, convenient, and cost-effective care to our patients’ homes,” said Gregg Meyer, MD President of the Community Division and Executive Vice President of Value Based care at Mass General Brigham. “It is an essential part of our system’s work in value-based care and this coverage decision will accelerate our ability to deliver these services to our patients and our communities.”
Mass General Brigham has nearly 5 years of experience providing home hospital care to its patients. Over the course of the past 2-3 years, Mass General Brigham has offered Home Hospital care to over 1,000 patients. Patients typically eligible for Home Hospital services are those patients that present to the Emergency Department for acute illnesses that require hospitalization including infections, heart failure, asthma and other acute conditions. The decision to deliver care in the home is a decision made between the patient and their care team. Today’s announcement will likely rapidly increase the availability of Home Hospital services across the nation.
In December 2019, physicians within Mass General Brigham conducted the country’s first randomized controlled study of hospital level care at home for acutely ill adults. The study found that the cost of care was nearly 40% lower for home patients than control patients. Home hospital patients had fewer lab orders, used less imaging and had fewer consultations. The team also found that home hospital patients spent a smaller portion of their day sedentary or lying down and had 70% lower readmission rates within 30 days than control patients.
“Our research has shown that we can deliver hospital-level care in our patients’ homes with lower readmission rates, more physical mobility, and a positive patient experience,” said David Levine, MD, MPH, MA, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of Strategy and Innovation for Brigham Health Home Hospital. “During these challenging times, a focus on the home is critical. We are so encouraged that CMS is taking this important step, which will allow hospitals across the country to increase their capacity while delivering the care all patients deserve.”
“The patients we have served in Home Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic have been particularly grateful for the opportunity to be treated in the comfort of their home – especially elderly patients and patients with chronic medical conditions,” said Ryan Thompson, MD, MPH, director, MGH Home Hospital. “As hospital capacity has become more and more strained, having the ability to send patients home with hospital-level services has been enormously helpful to patients and our hospitals. This program has proven time and again to be a true win-win.”
Learn more about Home Hospital at Mass General Brigham.
Mass General Brigham:
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Mass General Brigham is an integrated academic health care system, uniting great minds to solve the hardest problems in medicine for our communities and the world. Mass General Brigham connects a full continuum of care across a system of academic medical centers, community and specialty hospitals, a health insurance plan, physician networks, community health centers, home care, and long-term care services. Mass General Brigham is a nonprofit organization committed to patient care, research, teaching, and service to the community. In addition, Mass General Brigham is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research organizations with several Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals. For more information, please visit massgeneralbrigham.org.