Hospital-at-home care models had been gaining steam over the years alongside the gradual introduction of new remote care tools, but the acceleration of digital health in 2020 has uniquely paved the way for these initiatives to push into regular care.
Today, those tech-driven care models hit another milestone for institutional acceptance as the Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente announced a major collaborative partnership with at-home acute care company Medically Home.
The high-profile systems said they will be massively scaling up existing deployments of Medically Home’s services among their markets, communicating across organization lines to hammer out best practices for hospital-at-home care delivery models and strategically investing roughly $100 million into the startup.
“The heart of this announcement is that we believe together—Kaiser, Mayo, Medically Home—that it’s time for a provider-led transformation of healthcare delivery,” Raphael Rakowski, executive chairman of Medically Home, said during a press briefing. “Others have tried to transform healthcare—the Amazons the of the world [and] the others who come from outside have not been successful, and we believe that the right approach to actually provide the transformation that everyone is recognizing is needed needs to come from within. We believe … there [are] no better partners in the world to lead that provider-led decentralization of care.”
Medically Home installs a suite of communications devices, remote patient monitoring devices, emergency response systems and other supplies such as durable medical equipment in a patient’s home so that providers can treat high-acuity patients outside of the costly hospital setting.
Providers use these integrated tools to coordinate care from a “command center” that allows continuous monitoring and on-demand communication with patients around the clock. Should the patient require additional support, such as a delivery of oxygen, the startup’s rapid-response logistics system can also ensure patients receive additional support—for instance, delivering oxygen—to their home within hours rather than days.
Rakowski said the startup launched its first model about four years ago in Boston and has since worked to deploy its approach among other providers, including Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente.
John Halamka, M.D., president of the Mayo Clinic Platform, said that his organization has so far discharged more than 300 patients who received care with the support of Medically Home’s services. These patients had similar medical outcomes but with the benefits of reduced readmission rates, “extraordinarily low” complication rates and much higher satisfaction among patients and their families.
“The timing of announcing this collaboration of Kaiser and Mayo and Medically Home couldn’t be better because the culture is ready to accept it,” Halamka said during the press event. “Although the pandemic has been a tragedy, it has built collaborations that are extraordinary, patient experiences that are culturally appropriate and regulatory frameworks that will make it sustainable."
“The coming together of a Kaiser and a Mayo … is [a] signal to the industry,” Halamka said.
Stephen Parodi, M.D., executive vice president of The Permanente Federation, noted that the hospital-at-home care model also allows providers to take more information about the patient’s life into account when delivering care. Entering the home allows teams to observe behaviors, diet, relationships and other health determinants and then mold their approach around those factors.
“The person-centered approach to providing high-acuity and quality care in the comfort of a patient’s home has emerged … during this pandemic,” he said. “Never has it been as clear as it is now to ensure healthcare is focused on the entire patient, where we are able to address both medical and social determinants that have led to a patient’s condition so we can prevent hospitalizations altogether and address a person’s true goal of care."
“We believe that this technology-enabled platform will extend the reach and expertise of our hospital teams and provide the opportunity for new members of the team to visualize the reality of a patient’s home through true community-level care that’s inclusive of home nurses, physician’s assistants and paramedics,” Parodi said.
The partners described the $100 million funding as beyond just a financial investment and more as the fuel Medically Home will need to size and scale its model to more patients.
But Rakowski admitted that the weight of these names does come with market benefits for the Boston-based, roughly 170-person startup. After last year’s announcement of the initial Mayo partnership, Rakowski said he has had more than 100 conversations with others interested in potentially deploying decentralized care models alongside a trustworthy partner.
“By bringing Kaiser and Mayo in as we are, we have … repositioned how we are perceived both in the marketplace around the world and in a regulatory way,” he said. “So, the other value of the Mayo-Kaiser partnership is it repositions Medically Home in the primary service of care for patients, above and beyond anything else.”
As a result, he said Medically Home’s current business plan is to ramp up its presence among existing customers and then target “the coalition of the willing who follow the coalition of the leaders.”