Chartis: Number of systems exploring hospital-at-home to double over next 5 years

The number of health systems looking to install a hospital-at-home program is expected to double in the next five years, even as the fate of the program remains in limbo, a new survey found. 

The survey, released earlier this month by the Chartis Group, showed more systems are leaning into hospital-at-home, which enables patients to get hospital-level care in their homes. The survey also found that more health systems are looking into digital-first primary care and remote patient monitoring to offer more personalized care.

“Digital transformation represents the most promising opportunity to make healthcare delivery more satisfying for patients, more streamlined for provider staff, and more sustainable for hospitals and health systems,” Chartis’ report said. “Provider organizations should act now to capitalize on this critical and timely juncture of industry evolution.”

Chartis spoke with 143 health system executives on their five-year plans for digital transformation. 

It found that 39% of respondents plan to implement a hospital-at-home system within the next five years, up by nearly double compared to the 18% listed in the 2021 Chartis survey.

In five years, 55% of the health systems surveyed plan to be in the implementation stages for remote patient monitoring, up from 35% in 2021. A similar percentage (49%) also hopes to be implementing digital-first primary care in the next five years, up from 22% of those surveyed in 2021. 

The findings come as hospitals and health systems are starting to get competition from nontraditional rivals like virtual health or technology companies. 

Most health system executives (77%) believe there is a high to medium chance that large tech companies like Google and Microsoft will be their top competitors in the next five years. Another 36% believe their top competitor will come in the form of a startup tech company.

“It’s not just that nontraditional rivals are emerging with digital health offerings that could be a competitive threat to hospitals and health systems,” the report said. “It’s that these new rivals are creating personalized digital experiences designed to compete for patient consumers in their markets.”

This new competition could be one of the reasons digital transformation is accelerating in hospitals and health systems along with why hospitals are choosing to build out digital infrastructure for remote patient monitoring and hospital-at-home programs. 

However, the expansion could be in limbo unless Congress acts. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services widened the use of hospital-at-home at the onset of the pandemic thanks to new waiver flexibilities that will expire after the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

The emergency is expected to be renewed by the Department of Health and Human Services in October for another 90 days. There is legislation in the Senate to extend the hospital-at-home waiver past the PHE, but it has not advanced in the chamber.