In-Home Hospitalization Option Provides Host of Benefits for Patients and Care Teams Alike
When Steve Wilson was diagnosed with COVID-19 in October 2021, he faced a 10-day hospital stay and plenty of uncertainty. His wife of 47 years, Judy, was stuck at home, missing him and feeling disconnected from the care he was receiving in the hospital.
That all changed when Steve became the first patient in Bellin’s Hospital to You program, an in-home hospitalization option for eligible Medicare patients within a 5-mile radius of Bellin Memorial Hospital in Green Bay. The first offering of its kind in northeast Wisconsin, Hospital to You offers everything the patient would receive during a traditional hospital stay, but with the privacy, familiar surroundings, support system and comforts of home.
“It’s definitely better at home, with your family—and I’ve got a dog, too,” Steve said, reflecting on the experience during an interview after his recovery. “So, to me, it helps in the healing process. The staff that did come out, they were just awesome. I just couldn’t ask for more.”
Hospital to You services include daily provider visits (in-person or video), in-home vital sign monitoring and lab draws; medical equipment and transportation; mobile imaging, medications and meals. Patients receive care from a robust team including nurses, nursing assistants, social workers and physical, occupational, speech and respiratory therapy services. Care team access is 24/7 with the ability to respond on-site within 30 minutes.
Bellin took on the challenge of providing an in-home hospitalization option after Medicare rules changed to allow for reimbursement for this type of care. Health system officials knew it could assist with hospital volumes that had been continuously high before COVID-19 and had only increased as the pandemic wore on.
“This is a true game-changer for the way we are able to care for our patients, and early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Bellin Health Care Beyond Walls Director Maggie Koch. “The future of population health lies in programs like this, which allow us to better meet our patients’ needs where they are, while lowering the cost of care and offering an optimal experience for those we serve.”
Programs like Hospital to You have been shown to have numerous benefits, including increased patient satisfaction and decreased hospital length of stay, readmissions, emergency department visits and nursing home admissions. Clinical outcomes are comparable or better, patients typically heal faster at home and risks for higher-risk patients (infections, communicable diseases, delirium, falls) are decreased.
“During our weekly quality review huddles, we were able to determine that we were providing the same safe, high-quality care expected for any Bellin patient,” said Melissa Patnode, team leader for Hospital to You. “It is inspiring to see the difference this program is making, and we look forward to continued learning as we grow the program and maximize its effectiveness for our patients and teams.”
As for the Wilsons, they would recommend the program to anyone, Judy said.
“I just can’t say enough about it,” she said. “Why wouldn’t you want to come home and heal?”
to watch a video with more of Steve and Judy’s Hospital to You story.