Highmark Health taps into stay-at-home preferences

 - 
Friday, September 18, 2020

PITTSBURGH – Highmark Health recently expanded its Home Recovery Care program to two more hospitals in its network, boosted by the ongoing public health emergency that has increased the value of home care. 

HRC originally launched at Allegheny Health Network in late 2019 as part of a joint venture between the payer and Contessa; it provides inpatient care in the home through telemedicine, providers and Contessa’s technology for coordinating care. 

“HRC gives us the opportunity to give individuals a choice of whether to receive treatment during a hospital stay or, if they prefer, to go home,” said Dr. Monique Reese, senior vice president, home and community care, Highmark Health. “There are plenty of surveys out there (that show) the preference is to stay in the home when that makes sense and is safe.” 

Eligible patients are those with health conditions that are considered low-acuity, like COPD, heart failure and cellulitis, and meet a set of criteria. An integrated team that includes HME, nursing and home care providers and a hospitalist work together to transition the patient safely home, says Reese.  Along with access to providers and equipment, the patient can also receive daily video check-ins. 

Although HRC was started before anyone even thought about a national health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has sped up the acceptance of stay-at-home programs, says Reese. Early in the pandemic, for example, CMS relaxed rules around telehealth visits. 

“We have seen that progress with the pandemic,” she said. “We’ve also positioned ourselves to enable providers and home health organizations to offer remote monitoring and virtual visits, and we will continue to see that as an option for providers, payers, and patients and families.”