Lifesprk, North Memorial Health Partner on Hospital-at-Home Model to Decompress COVID-19 Surges

Lifesprk, a home-based care provider, has teamed up with North Memorial Health Hospital to create a hospital-at-home model for Minnesotans during the COVID-19 crisis.

The goal of the hospital-at-home model is to make North Memorial COVID-19-surge averse while helping it get lower-acuity patients out of the hospital sooner.

Lifesprk is a holistic home care provider based in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Its innovative, whole-person focus recently netted it a $16.1 million investment from Virgo Investment Group, the first one it had accepted since it was founded in 2004.

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The company had a previous relationship with North Memorial, which had helped Lifesprk develop an innovative care delivery system known as “LEADS” — or Life Experience Alternative Delivery System.

North Memorial, based in Minneapolis, provides primary care, home care, medical transportation and other services via its clinics located throughout Minnesota. Its two hospitals include North Memorial Health Hospital and Maple Grove Hospital.

“I was thinking [about] how we could help the hospitals and our partners,” Lifesprk CEO Joel Theisen told Home Health Care News. “That’s when we started to think about it and started to build the model. Hospital-at-home isn’t brand new. But for us … it was just natural to go to them and propose ideas and let them know that we thought we could decompress some of their potential surges.”

The at-home plan was developed with a sense of urgency, despite Minnesota’s COVID-19 numbers being relatively manageable compared to outbreaks in other parts of the country.

As of Thursday, Minnesota had seen more than 36,700 confirmed COVID-19 cases and just under 1,500 deaths, according to government statistics.

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The hospital-at-home model gives North Memorial patients access to comprehensive, complex care in the comfort of their homes, including non-stop virtual support from a Lifesprk’s team and an in-home monitoring kit that includes pulse oximeters, blood pressures, scales and video-call capabilities. Patients also have access to a larger suite of services, which are also offered by Lifesprk to non-COVID-19 patients.

The partnership has also helped with non-health related, logistical matters.

“With the outbreak and shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), one of the just really sad things that all of us have witnessed is when someone goes into the hospital right now and is very sick, their loved ones can’t be there with them,” Dr. Carolyn Ogland, North Memorial’s CMO, told HHCN. “This is a way to really help our families and our patients stay together when they are sick.”

The Lifesprk-North Memorial hospital-at-home program isn’t the only one to launch recently.

Last week, Mayo Clinic announced it had teamed up with technology-enabled services company Medically Home to provide hospital-level care in the home. Mount Sinai at Home — the New York-based health system’s in-home care program — has also gained momentum during the COVID-19 crisis.

Although more hospital-at-home programs are popping up across the country, reimbursement remains a challenge in most cases. That’s primed to change moving forward, especially as more programs share quality outcomes and cost savings compared to traditional in-patient stays.

“I just want to stress how successful this intervention has been,” Lifesprk CMO Dr. Nick Schneeman told HHCN. “It has not been high volume, but the quality has just been outstanding.”

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