Health First At Home Program Yields Tremendous Success, Convenience in First Year
By Space Coast Daily // September 29, 2022
More than 250 patients who have now gone through the unique program
The program reports a patient satisfaction rate of more than 90 percent.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – If given a choice between spending a night (or more) in a hospital – and receiving the same hospital-level care in the comfort, familiarity and convenience of one’s own home – chances are excellent that most individuals would choose home.
In fact, one year since launching the hospitals’ At Home Inpatient Services – one of Florida’s first and only home-based hospital care programs – more than 250 patients who have now gone through the unique program have now spoken, reporting that they prefer and respond better to, treatment in the comfortable and familiar surroundings of their own homes.
Supported by a robust clinical infrastructure, the program allows patients presenting to the Health First Emergency Departments at Holmes Regional Medical Center, Palm Bay Hospital, or Viera Hospital to be evaluated for one of the numerous conditions eligible for potential treatment at home with hospital-level care, including:
■ Urinary Tract Infection
■ Simple Pneumonia
■ Congestive Heart Failure
■ Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
■ Bronchitis & Asthma
■ Skin infections
Patients for the program will receive:
■ Transportation to their home if needed
■ Support from a dedicated coordinator who guides their care
■ Delivery and setup of all necessary equipment, medications, and supplies
■ 24/7 remote monitoring of their vital signs by our clinical team
■ Two in-home visits by a clinical team member
■ Daily in-home or Virtual Visits from a Registered Nurse
■ Daily in-home or Virtual Visits from a nurse practitioner, physician assistant or physician.
■ Support to coordinate all needed services and follow-up appointments after discharge
Recent studies show that patients receiving care in their home environment experience fewer hospital readmissions and visits to the Emergency Department, less time in bed, and increased patient satisfaction. Further, other hospital systems with similar initiatives have shown favorable outcomes for patients treated under the same model.
Delight To Patients and Loved Ones
According to Mark Rosenbloom, MD, Health First Vice President of Clinical Transformation, the program delivers a personal level of service and delight to patients and their loved ones – in turn helping to reduce patient anxiety and offering the peace of mind of having access to a dedicated Health First care team from the convenience and comfort of their own homes.
“The primary driver for us in developing this program was to become customer-focused, to bring care directly to the customer where they’ll get the best care and the best experience possible. And very often that’s in the home – not in the hospital,” said Rosenbloom.
“There’s a push across the nation to bring care to the home and it’s estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of care that we currently provide in hospitals will be delivered to the home by 2025.”
Eighty-three-year-old Eury Holliday of Palm Bay was the very first patient to participate in the program in June 2021. After a late evening bout with breathing issues related to COPD, Holliday’s son brought him to Holmes Regional Medical Center.
As Brevard County was facing a new outbreak of COVID-19 transmissions, patients and family members presenting to local hospitals were first required to be tested before being reunited together in the Emergency Department.
“I remember thinking that I was going to likely spend the night at the hospital, but the hospital was also very busy with COVID patients, so I was worried about that – not catching COVID, but just what would happen next,” Holliday said.
“After a little while, I was told that Health First was starting this new program and if I wanted, I could be taken care of back at my house. I was very surprised, but yeah, what’s not to like about that? I got to sleep in my own bed, eat my own food, and have my family nearby. The nurses were all very friendly and helpful.
“I felt like I got better care and more attention at home than I would have back in the hospital, so that was very nice. They spent the whole day with me, making sure my oxygen was good, checking my blood pressure, that I was taking my medication, things like that.”
Holliday recalled one particular moment when the level of care became even more “real” for him. One of his small monitor leads came loose in his sleep – alerting the care team immediately and prompting the late-night call to ensure all was right.
“My phone rang around 1:30 in the morning. They were calling to check in on me and wanted me to know something didn’t seem right about my breathing. I felt better knowing they were watching over me even while I sleep. It put me more at ease knowing that I was not alone even while at home.”
Telemonitoring Is Key Component
A key component of the Health First At Home program is its remote telemonitoring services. Tech company Current Health supplies the remote patient monitoring and care management technology for Health First, which is monitored by Health First’s eICU team – Central Florida’s only electronic intensive care unit – that combines telemedicine, software, and 24/7 electronic monitoring technology.
The eICU program provides Health First’s critical care physicians and nurses the ability to monitor real-time vital signs, laboratory results, and complete electronic medical records of patients in the various intensive care units (ICU) at all four Health First hospitals from a central location.
“We use a remote patient monitoring platform that provides the heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation and skin temperature and activity level,” explained Rosenbloom.
“It integrates with a tablet that also can be used for virtual visits with a physician, with a nurse, social worker or therapist. That tablet has an I-need-help icon you can press – and you get instantaneous assistance. As Mr. Holliday’s experience demonstrates, we can reach the patient if we notice, say, the heart rate’s going up or the oxygen saturation is going down, for instance. It’s a very robust remote patient monitoring system and technology.”
According to Melissa Lutz, a Nurse Manager for Health First At Home, the program allows for a closer one-on-one, individualized level of intimate care for patients.
“Hospital at Home is the gift that we get to give our community by taking care of them in probably the most intimate setting that they will ever be in – their home. We get the opportunity to actually sit with our patients at length, actually educate our patients, and truly confirm that they understand what we’re explaining to them, what the disease process is, what to expect about their care … and what we expect from them as part of the journey to their recovery,” Lutz explained.
“We’re able to truly connect with patients the way that we intended to connect with patients – back when we were aspiring nurses in nursing school. It takes us back to the true core of the caregiver-patient relationship.
“Our patients are very pleased with our services. They’re very happy to have their loved ones at home with them. Our patient satisfaction rates are greater than 90 percent – which is amazing. That speaks a lot to the team and culture that cares for and ‘connects’ with these patients.”