Christopher McCann says hospitals shouldn’t dwell on the past.
McCann is the CEO of Current Health, a technology company that helps health systems provide home health care, including hospital-at-home programs. The Scottish healthtech leader sees huge promise in offering acute care at home, but he also understands why some health care leaders may be tempted to focus on care within a hospital.
“I think hospitals are in a tough spot right now,” McCann says. “They’ve noticed that their volumes and their revenues have gone down, their costs are up, very, very high. So I think a lot of leaders are saying, ‘We’re going to focus on what we do best. Kindly know, who is patient, is on the bed.’
“We’re also seeing that a lot of hospitals recognize that the future is going to be different, and we can’t just invest in what we’ve done in the past,” he continues. “We have to invest in the future.”
And that means offering more care at home, including more acute care, he says.
“The future isn’t just going to be patient,” McCann says. “Everyone agrees that part of the future of care is going to be in-home caregivers. So we have to think about that future.
spoke to McCann core health education During the HLTH conference in Nov. He shares his thoughts on the changing healthcare landscape, how he thinks Best Buy’s acquisition of Current Health has set the company up for growth, and how healthcare leaders can ensure home-based care can be successful.
There will always be a place for a hospital, but he says some patients can get excellent care at home.
“For me, it’s how we deliver, without cliches, the right care in the right place at the right time,” says McCann. ,Watch part of our conversation in this video. Story continues below.)
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more hospitals are offering acute care at home, as the federal government has given health systems more flexibility in providing acute care at home. Congress and President Biden agreed to a two-year extension of those flexibilities in the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package that Biden signed in late December.
The home hospital programs are “one of the most innovative trial programs that have come to the fore during the pandemic,” said Kyle Zeble, senior vice president of public policy for the American Telemedicine Association. chief health officer In December. He called the expansion of the hospital-at-home exemption “a huge victory.”
As of today, 260 hospitals (114 health systems) in 37 states are offering the hospital-at-home program, according to federal government statistics.
With launching more systems or at least exploring such options, McCann says, “we’re really, really positive about our current growth trajectory.”
Current Health is working with over 20 health systems.
“We work with many of the major health systems in the country, guys like Geisinger, UMass, NYU, Mount Sinai,” McCann says. “We work across the United States, supporting hospital-at-home, all the way to chronic disease management. We’re trying to be the single solution, whether it’s taking an acute patient to the hospital at home. be, or whether it is a chronic disease management patient.
Joining Best Buy
They say that Best Buy’s purchase bodes well for the company’s long-term prospects. The retailer known for computers and electronics moved into the healthcare space in 2021 after acquiring Current Health in a $400 million deal.
With the acquisition, Current Health’s technology is combined with Best Buy’s strengths in logistics and supply chain management. Health systems are “excited about those capabilities,” McCann says.
He added that Best Buy has brought in experienced healthcare leaders. Deborah DiSanzo, president of Best Buy Health, has been in healthcare for 30 years, she noted. Best Buy built “a proper healthcare team,” says McCann.
“I think they came at it with a very thoughtful and, in my opinion, a mature and intelligent approach,” McCann says. “They knew they needed a company like ours, and went out and looked at the market, and thankfully we were the best. It was a great time for us. Needed what Best Buy had. So it came together really well.
looking to the future
While many healthcare leaders see more treatment moving to the home, McCann sees the future as a hybrid of home-based care and treatment inside hospitals.
“A lot of people are saying that home is going to be a replacement for the hospital. I think that’s wrong,” McCann says. “There are so many people who need to be inside hospitals. The inpatient environment is always There is going to be a place where care is required.
“The point for me is whether there is a percentage of the care that is inpatient today that can be delivered to the home,” he continued. “I think we’ve definitely seen that on COVID, that’s true.”
Part of Current Health’s focus ranges from acute care to chronic disease management at home, and post-acute transitional care.
“Health systems don’t want niche solutions for individual populations,” McCann says. “They want a solution that can support them throughout the enterprise.” “Patients don’t just live in these silos,” he says. “We want to follow them as they go from hospital to chronic care at home, and back to hospital at home, and give the consumer a unified experience, not a bunch of fragmented experiences, but one experience that spans their journey.” follows them through.”
Proponents point to encouraging studies showing good outcomes for patients in hospital-at-home programs, including fewer readmissions.
Nonetheless, some healthcare leaders have been reluctant to invest in hospital-at-home programs and other home-based technology initiatives. According to a recent survey of healthcare executives conducted by Sage Growth Partners, while many healthcare leaders see the potential for such initiatives to improve patient care, many see expanding the home as a top priority. do not recognize. Some are also waiting for more assurances about long-term federal reimbursement.
Still, patients are indicating they want more at-home care options, and healthcare leaders should consider patient preferences, McCann says.
“In the future, consumers are going to choose their providers based on who offers these services and who does not,” McCann says. “You have to do it now, because otherwise, you’ll be five years behind.”
While there are technology demands in implementing hospital-at-home programs, they are not the biggest challenge, McCann says.
“I say this as a technology leader, technology is not the most important part of it,” McCann says. “It’s making sure you have broad buy-in throughout the organization.”
He says hospital executives need to make sure home hospital programs are a major priority, not just a side project.
“It needs CEO-driven buy-in,” McCann says. “It needs clinical leaders, it needs nursing leaders, it needs IT leaders and they all have to buy into this together.”
Hospitals have to establish clinical workflow and select the right patients. Some patients may become very ill and may need to stay inside the hospital.
The most successful home hospital programs also have strong leadership from nurses, McCann says.
“They’ve been really instrumental in driving programs at the management level, helping identify patients and spending a lot of time in the home with those patients,” he says.
Nurses who participate in home hospice programs report greater job satisfaction, which McCann calls a welcome surprise.
“They’ve been able to really go in and provide care in the way that they can,” he says. “If they have eight patients on one floor, and they’re paging every two minutes, and they’re being called away, they can’t spend that important time with that patient.”
McCann says the programs will not replace nurses, adding that they are vital to the hospital’s home work.
“These programs are only successful with amazing nursing and medical teams,” he says.
“We need to eliminate the phrase ‘virtual care,'” he says. “It’s not virtual, it’s still physical care. And we need nurses to go into the home and provide care. It’s never about replacing staff.
Ultimately, McCann says the success of Current Health will be based on health systems showing the clinical and economic case for hospital-at-home programs and their success in patient care and satisfaction.
But he says the other key component comes in satisfying a constituency that is often overlooked: the provider.
“The experience should be amazing for them,” McCann says. “It has to be easier for them to do this than to put the patient on the floor, or they won’t do it.
“We have to make the provider and physician experience incredible, and I don’t think that last part gets enough attention,” he adds. “They’re kind of left out, and I think that’s a mistake.”