Hospitals make room for coronavirus patients by trying to treat people at home

Studies have shown that home hospitalization can produce better health outcomes, fewer hospital readmissions and a lower mortality rate.

3/30/2020 7:00:00 AM

Studies have shown that home hospitalization can produce better health outcomes, fewer hospital readmissions and a lower mortality rate.

Studies have shown that home hospitalization can produce better health outcomes, fewer hospital readmissions and a lower mortality rate.

.Despite those savings, one of the biggest barriers has been financial: The federal government does not pay for home hospitalization through Medicare, the country’s biggest health insurer, which limits the pool of eligible patients and makes hospitals more reluctant to participate, Levine said. A federal advisory committee

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having Medicare cover home hospitalization in early 2018.But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azarrejectedmultiple proposals to do so, citing concerns including patient safety and overutilization of the program.Some medical providers are now pushing the federal government to reconsider in light of the coronavirus’ strain on medical facilities across the U.S., said DeCherrie, who has been in discussions with federal officials about the issue.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services declined to comment on its plans, but pointed to the agency’sto expand telehealth services under Medicare, allowing more patients to see doctors remotely.Hospitals across the U.S. are alreadymaking plans to ration care

if they run out of ventilators, bed space and other critically needed resources. In Italy, doctors have been forced to choose which coronavirus patients will receive lifesaving treatments.A group of Italian doctors from Bergamo — the area where hospitals have been hardest hit — recently published a paper urging other countries to use home-based care to “release pressure from hospitals.” The doctors recommended the use of oxygen therapy and monitors in the homes of patients with more moderate symptoms or who are recovering from the virus.

Doing so would help protect patients and health care workers, as well as reduce contagion, the authors said, warning of the risks of failing to act quickly.“The more medicalized and centralized the society, the more widespread the virus,” the doctors wrote. “This catastrophe unfolding in wealthy Lombardy could happen anywhere.”

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