CMS Announces Acute Hospital Care at Home Program to Assist with COVID-19 Surge

By Elena Muller, MPH

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services took new steps to assist with strains on hospital capacity due to the recent Covid-19 surge—now offering new allowances for telehealth and remote patient monitoring in what CMS is calling the Acute Hospital Care at Home program. 

 The Acute Hospital Care at Home program builds upon CMS’ existing Hospital Without Walls and Telehealth expansion initiatives from earlier this year. It provides eligible hospitals with unprecedented regulatory flexibilities to treat eligible patients in their homes by leveraging the latest technology available. 


Spend 3 minutes reading this article below to learn which patients are eligible, what the requirements are for participating hospitals, and how Health Recovery Solutions can help. 


 

Why does the Acute Care at Home program matter?

Given the tremendous strain COVID-19 is putting on our health care system, the launch of this new program allows CMS to respond to growing demands to offer innovative alternatives to inpatient care. CMS Administrator Seema Verma recently stated, “we’re at a new level of crisis response with COVID-19 and CMS is leveraging the latest innovations and technology to help health care systems that are facing significant challenges to increase their capacity to make sure patients get the care they need.” 

 With the new program, CMS is lifting barriers that hinder access to the acute care at home model, ensuring their regulations do not stand in the way of patient care. Over the years, the hospital at home model has gained a reputation for providing better outcomes at a lower cost. CMS has identified that with proper patient monitoring and treatment, acute conditions can be treated effectively in the home setting.

Which patients are eligible?

 CMS states, “[The Acute Care at Home program] is designed for patients who meet acute inpatient or overnight observation admission criteria for hospital-level care…the patient’s home is considered part of the hospital during the admission.” In order to ensure the rapid escalation of care is seamless, the program must be sufficiently integrated into the hospital. CMS believes this program can benefit over 60 conditions, including congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and pneumonia.  

What are the requirements for participating hospitals?

Participating hospitals are required to have appropriate screening protocols before care at home begins. The protocols are required to assess medical and non-medical factors, including working utilities, assessment of physical barriers, and screenings for domestic violence concerns. 

Patients will only be admitted into the program from emergency departments and inpatient hospital beds, and an in-person physical evaluation is required prior to starting care at home. Additionally, CMS is requiring a combination of remote patient monitoring and in-person RN visits to the patient’s home, depending on the patient’s care plan and the hospital policies. A RN is required to perform an evaluation on each patient—in person or remotely—daily. 

How can interested hospitals apply to the program?

Interested hospitals must submit a request through CMS’ online portal in order to waive §482.23(b) and (b)(1) of the Hospital Conditions of Participation—requirements for on-premise nurse monitoring services and the immediate availability of a RN for care of any patient.

How can HRS can help deploy an Acute Hospital Care at Home program?

Since the onset of the pandemic, HRS has supported health systems in their hospital at home efforts. Michigan Medicine, Avera Health, and others have leveraged the HRS technology suite to safely manage patients’ care outside the hospital setting, ensuring that all patients are able to receive the high quality care they need.

HRS technology offers advanced biometric monitoring, virtual visit capabilities, medication management, and symptom surveys—all of which enable health systems to manage sick patients at home. In addition to the technology, HRS released the COVID-19 Care Plan, which includes preset modules for monitoring patients with COVID-19 at home.  

HRS offers tablet and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) options equipped with Bluetooth monitoring capabilities so every patient can access their clinicians safely in the comfort of their own home.


 

Interested in using HRS for your acute hospital care at home program? 

Request a Demo to Learn More

Tags: CMS, reimbursement, COVID-19, Hospital at home, News & Trends, Home Health & Hospice, Organization Type, Hospitals & Health Systems

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