We can do more to prevent hospital stays and widen access to services
I was delighted to read the editorial “Providing hospital-level care at home saves money. The government should allow more of it” (Opinion, July 26). The benefits of home-hospital care after discharge provide proven and tremendous value to both the system and patient. However, I advocate for a broader view of hospital-level care-at-home programs so that even greater benefits can be realized by more patients.
The narrow focus misses two critical areas of home-based health care: prevention and equity. We can do more to prevent the months-long hospital stays in the first place by identifying patients with chronic conditions and providing them with available and established digital health care options for daily monitoring and support. As for equity, the home-hospital programs discussed in the editorial are run by the state’s larger hospital systems that not all patients have access to. If we are to contemplate expanding coverage for home-hospital programs, we must include digital and e-health options that can reach everyone, be it a patient of a community health center or rural private practice.
When planning for the future of health care delivery at home, we must broaden our view if we want to realize the healthiest outcomes or we risk widening the costly social and economic gaps that already exist in health care.
The writer is founder of Senscio Systems, a virtual health care company, and was a member of former governor Charlie Baker’s Massachusetts Digital Health Council.
Behavioral health patients could gain from this approach
Your July 26 editorial is spot-on in detailing how home-based health care can lower costs while improving quality of life. Massachusetts must consider supporting this type of care model for behavioral health patients, too.
As the CEO of a home health care agency that serves some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable behavioral health patients, I’ve witnessed how this approach can remove the social barriers to continuing care and reduce unnecessary high-cost hospital visits.
These patients often cycle in and out of emergency departments and inpatient facilities, and the results can be costly. However, integrating care for psychiatric conditions and medical issues in the home can facilitate comprehensive treatment while providing optimal outcomes for patients. This helps control costs, keeps patients out of hospitals, and moves them toward independence.
When a behavioral health patient is continually hospitalized, everybody loses: hospitals, insurers, providers, and most certainly the patient. Hospitalization could be preventable with the right infrastructure in place.
Implementing inclusive home care would benefit our entire health care system. It also makes fiscal sense and is a humane thing to do.
Founder and CEO