Hospital-at-home steps out of the COVID-era through new Atrium Health, Best Buy partnership

Both Atrium Health and Best Buy Health employed their respective at-home care programs during the COVID-19 pandemic when hospitals were a hotbed for the virus and providers were scrambling to provide care.

Today, the duo announced a partnership to develop a new hospital-at-home offering for a post-pandemic world.

Atrium Health launched its virtual inpatient care program to treat COVID patients from the comfort of their own homes. Best Buy Health has grown its remote care enterprise solution through a series of acquisitions and partnerships with companies like Current Health and TytoCare.

Rasu Shrestha, M.D., chief innovation and commercialization officer at Advocate Health, Atrium’s parent company, believes that the new collaboration will illuminate at-home care and expand Atrium’s current offering.

“This transition that happens from discharging a patient from a hospital to the void of their home is the dark side of the moon: It's disconnected, confusing, expensive,” Shrestha told Fierce Healthcare. “What we've been doing in the past is working through our hospital home program and manually putting together a lot of these devices. By working with Best Buy Health, we're developing the seamless connected care experience and an opportunity to truly scale this.”

Since launching its hospital-at-home program in March 2020, Atrium has met 6,300 patients at home while redirecting 25,000 hospital bed days, according to Shrestha. “In the context of traditional brick-and-mortar facilities, that’s a 100-bed hospital,” he noted.

Atrium’s at-home hospital program was initially designed for COVID and COVID-presumptive patients. Now, the suite of solutions is meeting a growing cadre of patients diagnosed with chronic cardiac conditions, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, asthma, infections and other medical and postoperative conditions.

According to Shrestha, the program has yielded a 10% bump in patient satisfaction along with improved patient outcomes, which he attributes partially to the avoidance of hospital-born superbugs.

Up until now, the provider lassoed a handful of solutions to form its hospital-at-home program. Following the remote care boom in the pandemic, providers have nodded toward “point-solution fatigue” as one source of burnout as they struggle to manage various digital platforms. This, Shrestha said, is where Best Buy Health has the most to offer.

“So what Best Buy Health really brings to the table are its strengths around an innovative omnichannel experience,” he said. “I’d say they’re also bringing a distinctive in-home service around their Geek Squad and the work that we're doing in co-developing some new elements that can be brought to the hospital home program.”

Shrestha sees Best Buy Health’s nationwide reach, robust supply chain and technical strength as the tools to take Atrium’s hospital-at-home program national. A program that is currently the largest in the county, he added.

Best Buy most recently acquired enterprise remote care management platform Current Health in 2021. The company's platform combines health devices, telehealth and patient engagement and has grown under the electronic retailer’s umbrella.

Current Health now totes relationships with half of the top 10 largest health systems in the country, including Geisinger, Mount Sinai Health System and NYU Langone Health.

In 2018, Best Buy Health first snatched up health company GreatCall, which provides health and medical alert services, then remote monitoring company Critical Signal Technologies in 2019. The same year, at-home medical exam and telehealth device kit company TytoCare joined a partnership with the health arm of the national retailer.

“Our goal is to focus on delivering or helping enable care at home for everybody, including the most vulnerable populations who may not be able to engage in current healthcare structure by going into a facility,” Diana Gelston, chief commercialization officer at Best Buy Health, told Fierce Healthcare. “Best Buy makes sure that patients are successful at home by enabling care through the Geek Squad and leveraging the clinical expertise of Atrium Health.”

At last year’s SXSW conference, president of Best Buy Health Deborah Di Sanzo relayed the company’s interest in serving the population choosing to age at home. It is this same population that Gelston said can benefit the most from Best Buy’s Geek Squad support.

“The purpose of Geek Squad is not just teaching people how to use tech, it's to make sure that those linkages work to make sure the Wi-Fi or the cellular is working,” Gelston said. “By leveraging Best Buy Health with the Geek Squad, who have the empathy, who can cross the threshold unlike any other retailer, who can train and test and make sure that things are working, robust connections exist between physicians and their patients in their home.”