[caption id="attachment_205127" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Beebe Healthcare is the first healthcare system in Delaware to offer a Hospital at Home program. | PHOTO COURTESY OF BEEBE HEALTHCARE[/caption]
LEWES — Beebe Healthcare is now the first Delaware hospital to offer expanded telehealth options via its Hospital at Home program, bringing physicians and nurses to patients' homes rather than asking them to come back into a doctor’s office.The Hospital at Home program is designed to provide follow-up care in the home, sometimes via computer tablet, and keep them out of the emergency room. Beebe physicians and nurses make daily visits in person or in a telehealth appointment, or twice a day visits from a nurse. Hospital at Home launched in late June with a small pool of patients, but Beebe officials plan to gradually grow admissions to ensure the process is seamless. Beebe Healthcare hospitalists refer the patients for Hospital at Home through the emergency room or other transfers from inpatient units. Patients must have a select diagnosis to qualify for the program.“This is how Beebe is providing the best care right here in Sussex County: collaborative innovations that provide a patient with personalized and empathetic care plans for their needs,” Beebe Healthcare President and CEO David Tam said in a prepared statement. “I’m proud of the multi-disciplinary team from patient care to IT to make this secure and innovative service available to patients.” While several Delaware hospitals and health service providers offer home care and hospice care options, Beebe is the first to offer a technology-based system to handle follow-up appointments in rural areas where transportation and doctor openings may be scarce.Through Hospital at Home, Beebe provides patients with a computer tablet, scale, pulse oximeter, blood pressure monitor and thermometer. If a patient needs a diagnostic exam unable to be completed in their home, or if their condition worsens, they may be transferred back to the hospital.Health care providers are weighing how to best leverage technology, since the COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on telehealth appointments, prevented costly emergency room visits and helped patients manage care without bringing them to a congested doctor’s office.The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed a new rule that would increase Medicare payments to Hospital at Home agencies, hoping to spur more interest in the service. The CMS proposed to raise payments to Hospital at Home agencies by 1.7%, or $310 million, by Fiscal Year 2022.Beebe Healthcare Chief Nursing Officer Lynne Voskamp pointed out that in Sussex County, access for the western end of Sussex County to Beebe’s emergency rooms may be more difficult than those who live closer to the coastal resort areas.“The logistics of having that person come to the hospital or having the patient at home is a win for everyone. And that’s just one example of how it benefits multiple family members. I think anyone would agree that recovering from something minor is more comfortable at home,” Voskamp told the Delaware Business Times. “This program also creates additional bed capacity for the hospital for sicker patients and surgical patients requiring in-hospital care.”Beebe Hospital at Home program also provides patients with transportation back home from the hospital, delivery and set up of any necessary equipment (including IV medications), support from social workers and physical therapists as well as assistance in scheduling follow-up appointments.