In another move reflecting the rapid rise of the hospital-at-home model, the Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente announced a major joint investment in Medically Home on Thursday.
The two health systems will inject a combined $100 million into the company, which had already raised more than $64 million since launching in 2016.
“Bringing Mayo Clinic and their medical knowledge, and 150-year history of serious and complex care, with the scale and the value of health care that Kaiser brings — it’s just an unprecedented collaboration,” Raphael Rakowski, executive chairman of Medically Home, said Wednesday during a media briefing.
Boston-based Medically Home has built a model that aids organizations in bringing services that are traditionally provided at a hospital bedside into the home. To do so, Medically Home helps its partners coordinate in-home clinician visits, in addition to any necessary technology, equipment, medication or other supplies.
Thursday’s news was an important milestone for Medically Home, but the company had been on the rise since experiencing double-digit growth in 2019.
“I would say that [growth] was anemic from 2017 through 2018,” Rakowski previously told Home Health Care News. “In 2019, there was an enormous amount of movement. I think this was primarily driven by hospitals that were full, taking a second look at their alternatives.”
Oakland, California-based health care giant Kaiser Permanente is both a provider and not-for-profit health plan. The organization currently serves 12.2 million members from over 600 locations in eight states and the District of Columbia.
Meanwhile, the nonprofit Mayo Clinic is widely considered one of the top hospital organizations in the country. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states, including major campuses in Rochester, Minnesota; Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona; and Jacksonville, Florida.
Kaiser Permanente and the Mayo Clinic’s investment will fuel Medically Home’s efforts to scale its high-acuity service to health systems across the U.S. and internationally.
Medically Home estimates that 30% of hospitalized individuals — or more than 10 million patients — across the U.S. each year can benefit from the hospital-at-home model.
At the heart of the funding announcement is the belief that it is time for a provider-led transformation of health care delivery, according to Rakowski.
“Others have tried to transform health care. The Amazons of the world and others who come from the outside have not been successful,” he said. “We believe that the right approach to actually provide the transformation … should come from within.”
As part of the investment, Kaiser Permanente has made hospital-at-home services available to patients in California and Oregon, utilizing Medically Home’s model.
“With the growing number of people who are aging over 65, we need to discover and implement programs that will address the needs of this population, at a scale,” said Dr. Stephen Parodi, executive vice president of the Permanente Federation. “Kaiser Permanente firmly believes that providing this type of care in the comfort of a person’s home is also a way to improve access, whether it is in an underserved or rural setting.”
Parodi noted that the program falls in line with a larger trend of care shifting into the home, as opposed to patients having to seek out health care systems.
On the Mayo Clinic’s end, the investment has its roots in a partnership the health system formed with Medically Home last year. The joint venture implemented a program that allowed Mayo Clinic’s patients to transition from the hospital back home, with support from virtual and in-person care.
Both Kaiser Permanente and the Mayo Clinic have plans to expand their hospital-at-home offering moving forward.
Overall, an investment of this size is an indicator that the hospital-at-home model has solidified its place as part of the larger health care continuum.
While hospital-at-home has long proven its value when it comes to lowering health care costs and improving patient outcomes, it hasn’t always been widely embraced by providers. One major reason for this is the lack of reimbursement under fee-for-service Medicare.
The hospital-at-home model made a quantum leap in November when the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) introduced its “Acute Hospital Care At Home” wavier program as a response to the COVID-19 emergency. Under the program, approved health systems and hospitals could be compensated for providing acute care in the home setting.
Additionally, the program granted regulatory flexibilities around this care delivery model.
Since the start of CMS’s program, the hospital-at-home landscape has expanded vastly in the U.S. As of May 7, the current list of approved organizations participating in the Acute Hospital Care at Home program included 56 health systems and 129 hospitals in 30 states.
Similar to the move from CMS, Kaiser Permanente and the Mayo Clinic’s investment into Medically Home was born out of the environment created by the public health emergency.
“Although the pandemic has been a tragedy, it has built collaborations that are extraordinary, patient experiences that are culturally appropriate and a regulatory framework that will make it sustainable,” said Dr. John Halamka, president of Mayo Clinic Platform.
Halamka added that its collaboration with Medically Home has allowed the health system to pay closer attention to patient’s social needs, as well as their medical needs. Mayo Clinic has also seen a reduction in readmission rates.
“I would say our success has been extraordinary,” Halamka said. “The patients have been very satisfied, complications have been low. There has not been unexpected morbidity or mortality in any way — proving the model of Medically Home can scale nationwide.”
Just this week, a non-related study conducted by researchers from Atrium Health similarly highlighted the safety and effectiveness of hospital-at-home programs.
Looking to the future, Rakowski stressed the importance of serious and complex care becoming a common practice in clinical care delivery.
“Getting confidence in the clinical community about the model, particularly, its reliability and its safety is the most important thing from our standpoint,” he said.