Mass General Brigham outlines plans to expand hospital-at-home care

Mass General Brigham has laid out plans to expand its home-based care offerings and snagged a veteran of the field to lead the charge.  

The Massachusetts-based system is aiming to grow its hospital-at-home programs from 25 patients to 200 in the next 2.5 years, according to reported numbers a spokesperson confirmed for Fierce Healthcare.

The system also hopes to have 90 hospital-at-home beds managed across Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Salem Hospital by 2023’s end.

MGB is looking to grow its home care support team from about 800 employees to more than 1,000 by the end of this year. It has already expanded its fleet of remote care delivery support vehicles from two to 10 and could begin tapping outside vendors for additional medical equipment deliveries, per the spokesperson.

“Home care was founded upon the belief that people recover better at home, where they can be surrounded by family and friends in a comfortable and familiar setting,” Gregg Meyer, M.D., president of MGB’s community division and executive vice president of value-based care, told Fierce Healthcare in an emailed statement.

“In addition to these benefits, research shows that home-based care reduces expenses while providing lower-complication rates, higher patient satisfaction and improved outcomes for those who can safely be transitioned from the hospital setting.”

The system cited a 2019 study conducted by its researchers that demonstrated home-based hospital care’s 38% reduction in direct costs compared to equivalent traditional care.

Since kicking off its efforts in 2016, MGB said it has provided home-based acute care to nearly 1,800 patients.

Heather O'Sullivan
Heather O'Sullivan (Mass General Brigham)

Meyer said in a separate statement that demand for home hospital services has only accelerated in recent years “due to the COVID pandemic and the evolving needs of our community.”

Guiding the ramp-up strategy will be Heather O’Sullivan, who, according to a Monday announcement, has been named MGB’s first-ever president of home-based care.

She comes fresh from a year of consulting and roles as the executive vice president and chief clinical innovation officer of Kindred at Home, the country’s largest provider of home care services that was acquired by Humana in 2021.

Initially a nurse practitioner, O’Sullivan’s résumé also includes senior and executive clinical operations roles at UnitedHealth Group, Univita Health, Cardinal Health and naviHealth.

Albeit an investment, the promise of reduced costs could be a boon for MGB in light of recent pressure from state regulators and watchdogs to contain healthcare costs.

Just a few months ago, the system received the regulatory go-ahead for a trimmed-down version of its $2 billion-plus hospital expansions and axed a controversial $223.7 million outpatient surgical center construction plan.