Patients Like Hospital Care At Home, But Some Insurers Are Skeptical
Phyllis Petruzzelli spent the week before Christmas struggling to breathe. When she went to the emergency department on Dec. 26, the doctor at Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, near her home in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, said she had pneumonia and needed hospitalization.
Then the doctor proposed something that made Petruzzelli nervous: Instead of being admitted to the hospital, she could go back home and let the hospital come to her.
As a “hospital-at-home” patient, Petruzzelli learned, she would get home visits from doctors and nurses who would come twice a day and perform any needed tests or bloodwork.
A wireless patch, a little bigger than her index finger, would be affixed to her skin to track her vital signs and send a steady stream of data to the hospital. If she had any questions, she could talk face-to-face via video chat anytime with a nurse or doctor at the hospital.
A key obstacle, clinicians and policy analysts agree, is getting health insurers, whose systems aren’t generally set up to cover hospital care provided in the home, to pay for it.
At Brigham Health, the hospital can charge an insurer for a physician house call, but the remainder of the hospital-at-home services are covered by grants and funding from Partners HealthCare’s Population Health, which is affiliated with Brigham Health.