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Adventist Health’s Hospital@Home expands flexible bed capacity in the time of COVID-19

Innovative approach offers insights on the virtual hospital of the future

California’s early action – including the first statewide stay-at-home order in the U.S. – has helped to suppress what was initially anticipated to be a dramatic surge of COVID-19 patients. Now a new challenge is on the horizon, and preparations have shifted to the more likely scenario of micro-surges that could unpredictably impact communities.

To meet that new challenge, Adventist Health announced an innovative plan to supplement acute care capacity by using virtual technology to safely treat hundreds of additional patients in their homes. In collaboration with Medically Home® and Huron, the health system began admitting patients to its first virtual hospital, Adventist Health Hospital@Home, on Monday, May 11.

“Adventist Health has been exploring this approach to help us transform care,” says Adventist Health President Bill Wing. “When the state initially projected dramatic shortages of inpatient beds and Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a call for all providers to expand capacity, Adventist Health seized the opportunity to deploy Adventist Health Hospital@Home powered by Medically Home® to meet the needs of the moment.”

While the anticipated surge has been delayed, Adventist Health Hospital@Home represents innovative thinking that will provide a flexible tool for managing waves of potential COVID-19 outbreaks in nine Adventist Health service areas over the next year. This new model also holds the promise of long-term improvements for patients and their care, since the virtual hospital model will reshape the way acute care is delivered to the system’s communities. Similar services piloted across the country have demonstrated improvements in safety and quality, including reduced readmissions, fall risk and length of stay. The services also will reduce capital and operating costs and enhance the flow of supplies. In addition, this care delivery model is anticipated to provide scalable access points to improve availability of care to communities.

In the immediate term, Adventist Health Hospital@Home will provide 150 beds. It harnesses virtual and telemedicine technologies, proven successful in hospitals for the last decade. Medically Home’s proprietary platform and proven model of care enables 24/7 virtual assessment and control from a remote telemedical command center, built and operationalized by Huron and staffed with Adventist Health doctors and nurses who have received advanced training with the new model.

“Adventist Health’s Hospital@Home virtual hospital delivers high-tech, complex hospital care to a patient’s home,” says Medically Home Chief Medical Officer Eliza Shulman, D.O., M.P.H. “Clinicians can infuse medications, perform X-rays and place central lines in the home. The technology platform enables physicians to provide care with the highest degree of compassion, and patients are more comfortable being treated at their homes.”

Adventist Health Hospital@Home will initiate three Medical Command Centers inside its current hospitals that will manage as many as 150 beds at homes in targeted service areas. Each service area will have Rapid Response Teams that will deploy to the patients at home when needed. These teams can accommodate a variety of clinical services, such as infusion, skilled nursing, lab, pharmacy, mobile imaging and nutrition, among others. Initial California service areas will include Bakersfield, Clear Lake, Glendale, Hanford, Los Angeles, Mendocino County and Simi Valley.

Wing describes the project as an important window into the future of healthcare. It is intended to answer many of the challenges of modern healthcare, spurred by today’s immediate need to quickly expand hospital capacity.

“The virtual hospital has been a concept capturing the imagination of providers for the last several years. The technology exists and has been shown to be safer, more effective and less expensive than the same care in a hospital setting,” Wing says.

More information about the virtual hospital is available at AdventistHealth.org/VirtualHospital.