One year after passage, doctors praise at-home care laws, seek further expansion

by | Jan 17, 2023

  • Doctors touted anecdotal successes in implementing Senate Bill 1222 at a Senate Health Policy meeting on Tuesday
  • The bill allows for inpatient treatment including acute and post-acute hospital care to be administered in home settings
  • The doctors claim that the at-home program has resulted in lower mortality rates, lower readmittance rates, and higher hospital capacity capabilities
  • Looking to the future, the doctors brought up seeing movement into at-home cancer treatment and at-home recovery from cardiac and nephrology operations 

A pair of doctors spoke in front of the Senate Health Policy meeting on Tuesday, anecdotally praising Senate Bill 1222, passed last year, granting hospitals the right to treat patients at home.

The duo, Dr. Michael Maniaci of Mayo Clinic and Dr. Peter Chang of Tampa General Hospital spoke on their experiences and successes implementing at-home hospital care to patients across the state, offering insight into how the program can be built upon.

The bill, introduced by former state Senator Aaron Bean and signed into law last April, allows for inpatient treatment including acute and post-acute hospital care to be administered in home settings.

The legislation sought to expand access to healthcare for Floridians. The state holds one of the nation’s oldest populations, consequentially facing a pervasive issue regarding transportation to doctor’s offices or hospitals among senior citizens.

Further, the program’s implementation aims to reduce the intimidation factor of hospitalization.

“If you go back to the reason why we started this program, it’s really for the patients. Hospital at home is another cog in the healthcare system that de-silos the care,” said Chang. “A patient normally has to think about the mindset of being held captive in the hospital away from loved ones. It’s really a revolutionary concept that focuses around patient care.”

Maniaci reports Mayo Clinic has treated more than 1,800 hospital patients at home since the hospital launched its home service care model in 2020. Since SB 1222’s passage last year, Mayo Clinic reports that it is able to dedicate and administer greater levels of healthcare capabilities, with a subsequent higher number of patients treated since the bill went into effect.

“It has given our patients freedom and control of their healthcare, as opposed to being isolated away from their family … they’re able to go home and have the hospital come to them,” said Maniaci. “they’re able to engage with the healthcare and get hospital-level care in the home setting.”

Maniaci also stated that at-home care has shown statistical improvements in mortality rate, readmittances to the emergency room, and faster recovery times.

At-home treatment measures have also alleviated overhead costs, according to Maniaci. He states that home services have driven down operating costs, as well as opening hospital capacity numbers, ensuring that beds are available for those in critical need.

Maniaci also claims that home care access has helped alleviate the ongoing medical workforce shortage.

“We have a shortage of doctors and a huge shortage of nurses,” said Maniaci. “If we keep doing the same thing over and over again, we’re going to lose that battle. We have to do healthcare differently. The aspect of connecting to people, having our core resources of doctors and nurses connect virtually, others in the workforce with licenses like paramedics, traveling nurses, and physical therapists deliver that care in the home setting. That’s magical. That has really helped.”

Maniaci looks to continued growth of the program in the coming years, potentially seeing movement into at-home cancer care, primary care, and emergency department treatment.

At Tampa General Hospital, Chang states that there are ongoing discussions to transport post-kidney transplant patients to a home setting a day or two earlier than when a typical hospital release would occur, easing the transition into full recovery.

Chang also brought up talks to provide a similar home recovery system for aggressive cardiac procedures such as a valve replacement.


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