At a time when COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to put a strain on health care systems across the country, Novant Health has announced the implementation of a new digital health program designed to help relieve the pressure on acute care facilities, prevent or earlier detect the need for readmission, and provide better continuity of care for patients, according to a release from Novant communications.
Novant Health’s COVID Care at Home will identify patients undergoing treatment for COVID-19 who can safely transition to care at home and discharge those patients with on-demand virtual care follow-up appointments and in-home support. New Hanover Regional Medical Center, now part of Novant Health, launched a similar program in April 2020 and has served more than 2,400 patients.
“COVID Care at Home is a solution that can provide relief and allow eligible patients to be treated in the comfort of their home,” said Dr. Zak Anderson, clinical physician executive with the Novant Health Hospital-Based Medicine Institute, in the release. “This pandemic pushed us to be even more nimble and innovative in how we deliver safe, quality care. Like many new programs or services that we’ve developed in response to COVID-19, we plan to expand this model beyond COVID-19 to reach and benefit even more patients.”
Prior to COVID Care at Home’s implementation across the Novant Health system, 22 patients participated in a pilot program. Of the 22 patients who were discharged to continue with virtual care and home support, three were identified as needing to be readmitted to the hospital.
COVID Care at Home launched systemwide Sept. 1 and to date, more than 50 patients have benefitted from the program with on-demand virtual care and home support.
“These virtual follow-up appointments give us an opportunity to improve patient education and transition care, which helps us ensure the best outcomes for patients,” said Joy Justice, FNP, lead clinician, Novant Health Digital Care Group, in the release. “By giving patients the tools they need to follow their treatment plan — in the comfort of their own home — while still being closely monitored, we can intervene earlier and help reduce the likelihood they’d need to be readmitted for a serious or emergent condition. This is a win-win for our patients and for our hospitals.”
How it works
Depending on an individual’s treatment plan, a patient could be discharged to home with home oxygen monitoring and administration equipment. All COVID Care at Home patients will leave with a scheduled virtual visit within the first 24 hours with Novant Health’s on-demand virtual care team. After this initial virtual visit, patients will either get an emergent referral to see their Novant Health primary care provider, if they have one, or will continue to have ongoing on-demand virtual follow-up visits, as medically necessary. Should a patient require a higher level of care than a virtual visit can offer, the provider will consult with an acute care physician to coordinate direct admission to the hospital or a referral to see a specialist.
Novant Health’s case management team, in collaboration with the guest services team, ensures patients receive education on the tools necessary to facilitate COVID Care at Home. All patients will get assistance setting up a MyChart account, a step-by-step guide to access their scheduled virtual visit, as well as on-demand virtual visits, and a pulse oximeter before being discharged from the hospital.