Is the home the hospital of the future? Q&A with


Q: You mentioned remote patient monitoring and virtual hospital visits. How do you see the role of virtual care in home care delivery?


A: During the pandemic we saw a large uptake in virtual technologies being an enabler for care delivery, and we continue to see that adoption post-pandemic. For example, in our hospital-at-home program, when a patient is experiencing increased symptoms, a hospitalist can listen to a patient’s heart, lungs, and bowel sounds to do an initial assessment remotely. If needed, the hospitalist can then connect the patient to a physician or advance practice provider (APP) for a more extensive physical evaluation and to prescribe treatment.


In the past, that patient would have needed to get into their car, drive to the emergency department (ED) of the hospital, after which they would likely need to wait in the ED for a few hours before getting evaluated. That’s a lot of barriers to get access to timely care, which we are taking away by doing the initial assessment remotely. It drastically improves the experience for the patient and their family members, and they can immediately start managing symptoms to reduce the disease burden.


So, I think virtual care is a powerful complement to in-person care, and we are leveraging it in our other home health programs as well – whether it’s primary care at home or skilled nursing at home. But ultimately, what’s most important is how we integrate those technological capabilities into the work of our care teams, for a seamless patient experience. We want to offer the right care to the right patient at the right time. That usually requires a combination of in-person and virtual care. It’s not one or the other. We need to be flexible and adaptable in the capabilities and solutions we develop, in order to serve different patient needs and different market needs.