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University Health honored for its Hospital at Home program

The Texas Hospital Association has awarded University Health the 2022 Bill Aston Award for Quality for its groundbreaking work with Hospital at Home, including its use of the program to get new parents and their healthy babies back home faster.

The award honors a hospital’s measurable success in improving quality and patient outcomes through the sustained implementation of a national or state evidence-based patient care initiative.

“I am proud of my University Health colleagues that have embraced the concept that there's no place like home,” said Dr. Anna Taranova, University Health’s deputy chief of public health, innovation and equity. “The combination of telemedicine and home visits keeps patients out of the hospital or sends them home as soon as it's safe. This improves the care transition and lets patients recover in the comfort of their own home, surrounded by loved ones.”

The COVID-19 pandemic left hospitals struggling to find beds for patients, while people became increasingly ill because of delayed medical care. Hospital at Home was created in November 2020 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as a way to create flexibility in federal hospital regulations and increase capacity in U.S. hospitals.

University Health opened the Hospital at Home program in July of 2021 and became the first in the nation with this program model to admit new parents who had just given birth. The program provides hospital-level care and meets patient needs in the comfort of the patient’s home.

Patients who received hospital-level care in the comfort of their homes reported feeling less fatigued, more engaged in their care and were able to recover more quickly.

That is due in part to patients being able to move more freely about their homes than they could in a hospital, said Charles Reed, vice president and associate chief nursing officer of clinical excellence and ancillary services. This contributes to increased mobility, which is an important part of recovery. Also, family members can more easily participate in their loved one’s care at home, he said.

Since July 2021, University Health’s Hospital at Home team has cared for more than 730 patients. They include 451 with general medical conditions (including 109 recovering from COVID-19); 46 new parents; 29 recovering from surgery; 28 neurology patients; and 24 cardiology patients.

Their readmission rate of 10.3% within 30 days was much lower than the readmission rate of 12.4% for similar types of patients in acute care hospital units.

The Hospital at Home program has proven to be sustainable and effective for improving patient care, freeing up beds in the hospital for sicker patients and reducing the length of a traditional hospital stay. The program has created an innovative approach to health equity and health education through interactive technology, addressing social determinants of health and increasing access to care and acute bed capacity.

University Health promotes health equity by including patients without insurance. In addition to high patient satisfaction, the program lowers readmissions, reduces hospital-acquired infections, leads to improved transitions to outpatient care and provides access to treatment for those who might otherwise delay it, exacerbating their conditions.

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