Aiming to Ease Burden on Hospitals, CVS Health Enhances Its In-Home Capabilities

CVS Health is partnering with UCLA Health to provide more care in the home, in turn easing the burden of the COVID-19 crisis on hospitals.

While the initiative underlines the importance of home-based care, especially in times of crisis, it also creates potential partnership opportunities for home health agencies down the line.

Coram — a specialty CVS branch that delivers infusion therapy services — is enhancing its existing capacity and capabilities to treat more patients in home-based settings, the company announced Friday. It currently serves more than 183,000 patients per year in home-based and outpatient settings.

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“This will help create hospital bed capacity for treating those impacted by COVID-19,” a CVS Health spokesperson told Home Health Care News. “By working to transition patients out of hospital or outpatient settings, we can also help minimize their risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

Home infusion is the at-home delivery of a drug through a needle or catheter. Examples of home infusion are chemotherapy, immune deficiency treatment and anti-infective treatment.

CVS Health is also putting a stronger emphasis on clinical monitoring, virtual support and oversight via telehealth for both existing patients and ones acquired in the near future.

In its partnership with UCLA Health, Coram will be transitioning stable patients to home-based care settings. The targeted patients will include those with a range of illnesses that could require care such as infusion therapy, nutritional support and chronic condition management, among other services.

“Before transitioning a patient out of an inpatient setting, Coram will work with their care team to help evaluate the patient’s clinical stability [and] comorbidities that may require physician follow-up, as well as any required clinical monitoring,” the spokesperson said.

Coram’s specialized nurses will then provide coordinated care through daily visits, monitoring, education and medication administration.

Providing more care in community settings has proved to be valuable, but is particularly important amid the current public health emergency. Hospital systems have continually searched for ways to increase capacity and downgrade risk of coronavirus exposure for patients. The hospital-at-home model, for instance, has gained traction. And in New York, some home health providers are teaming up with hospitals in an effort to fix the problem.

Coram’s goal is to take the approach it’s using in California and scale it nationwide, especially in markets with a high amount of COVID-19 cases. The plan also includes working with home health agencies to enable care for patients that may require additional oversight and monitoring.

“We know that unprecedented challenges like COVID-19 require innovative thinking, partnership and swift action, and we are grateful for our Coram nurses who are doing an incredible job to help alleviate hospital capacity and provide important care where the need is greatest,” the spokesperson said.

Still, if the approach is successful, CVS Health hopes to maintain elements of it after coronavirus fears have subsided.

“Right now, we are focused on implementing the enhanced capacity and capabilities that enable us to do what we do best,” the spokesperson said. “Following the pandemic, we will evaluate the future need of this type of strategy.”

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