CommonSpirit Health Turns to Contessa for Hospital-Level Care at Home

Chicago-based nonprofit CommonSpirit Health announced Monday it’s teaming up with hospital-at-home startup Contessa to bring acute-level care and other new services into the homes of its patients.

Created in 2019 following the alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health, CommonSpirit operates across 142 hospitals and more than 700 care sites in 21 states. In 2018, CommonSpirit and Dignity Health had combined revenues of $29.2 billion.

Founded in 2015, Nashville-based Contessa — which has about 100 employees — partners with health systems and health plans through its home recovery care model, which is designed to provide hospital-level care in the home for a fraction of the cost. Contessa has raised nearly $30 million since launching, with its latest round led by Health Velocity Capital.

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Overall, Monday’s news marks Contessa’s third partnership with a major health system. In addition to CommonSpirit, Contessa works with Marshfield Clinic Health System in Wisconsin and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Moving into 2020, the startup could have as many as eight such arrangements, according to Contessa CEO Travis Messina.

“We are the only organization that has secured reimbursement from several national health plans and countless regional plans,” Messina told Home Health Care News. “The CommonSpirit footprint enables us to bring [our home recovery care model] to states across the country.”

Specifically, Contessa’s home recovery care model is built on a physician-led care plan, which is followed up on with in-home visits by an acute care registered nurse. The model also includes virtual in-home physician visits, access to a 24/7 recovery care coordinator, medication education and medical care at home, such as IVs and wound care, for example.

“[Our recovery care coordinators] manage the logistics to ensure that any durable medical equipment, infusion services, nursing or lab draw capabilities are brought to the home, in addition to a telehealth kit,” Messina said. “That recovery care coordinator serves as a charge nurse to a virtual unit.”

Typically, patients who have one or more qualifying medical conditions are eligible for Contessa’s services, with the home recovery care model covered by Medicare Advantage.

“We are taking what has traditionally been done in a concentrated institutional setting and doing so in a distributed manner,” Messina said.

As part of its appeal, Contessa’s home recovery care model has been shown to drive better health outcomes for patients. In fact, one of Contessa’s provider partners reported a 22% increase in patient satisfaction, a 44% decrease in hospital readmission rates and a 35% decrease in the mean length of hospital stay.

“Patients are having great outcomes because they are in their home, around their families and are getting on the path to recovery much quicker,” Messina said. “Getting patients back into their acts of daily living in a quicker timeframe further increases the likelihood of a good outcome.”

As hospital-at-home models continue to grow, home health providers may see more opportunities in the area. Finding quality home health partners is critical to Contessa’s operations, according to Messina.

“Several of our partners own their own home health capabilities, and we partner with them when launching the program,” he said. “In certain instances, our partners do not have those capabilities and we go to outside parties. They view this as a new avenue of growth because historically they would not have been able to treat these patients [who might otherwise be] in a hospital.”

Although it has been around for a long time and is more popular in other parts of the world, the hospital-at-home model has not fully caught on in the United States. That’s partly due to reimbursement barriers, though the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has started to experiment with related innovative payment mechanisms.

“CommonSpirit Health envisions a future for health care with more access points so patients can receive care on their terms,” Rich Roth, the health system’s leader of strategic innovations, said in a statement. “Our work with Contessa will bring recommended intensive outpatient care into the comfort of one’s home so that we can improve health outcomes and help enhance the overall health of our communities.”

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