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Hospitals, Health Systems Hungry for Partnerships with At-Home Care Enablers

This article is written by Andrew Donlan and originally appeared on HomeHealthCareNews.com.

The hospital-at-home concept was pioneered over two decades ago at Johns Hopkins. It became in vogue during the earlier parts of the COVID-19 crisis.

Now, it feels like just any other part of the at-home care ecosystem.

That means there are a lot more home-based care players by nature, including tech-enabled companies like Biofourmis and Luna, which are trying to help enable hospital-at-home models as part of their business plans.

“We’ve built a foundation of data science, and there’s a lot of interest in the market and need in the market for data scientists, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning,” Sheeza Hussain, the chief commercial officer at Biofourmis, told Home Health Care News. “And Biofourmis has been doing that for six years. During COVID, we’ve ramped up solutions pretty quickly to help address COVID challenges in regards to providing care.”

Originally founded in Singapore, Biofourmis’ U.S. offices are headquartered out of Boston. It uses predictive analytics to provide “end-to-end” solutions for patients in nearly any location, “harnessing the power of hospital-grade wearables and patient-centric tools.”

The company currently has about 400 employees, including clinicians and 35 data scientists.

Biofourmis has been working with governments across the world to address COVID-19-related health care challenges, Hussain said. But in the U.S, it has made its mark through partnerships with the likes of the Boston-based Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic to help ramp up their remote patient monitoring and hospital-at-home efforts.

“The CMS reimbursement for hospital-at-home has certainly been a catalyst for interest, but we have meetings with multiple hospitals and health systems everyday that are looking at hospital-at-home and remote patient monitoring,” Hussain said. “Some of them are going after the CMS waiver, of course. But what continues to be a theme is that they’re looking for a partner who can help them in a number of areas. Yes, acute-level care and hospital-at-home, but also post-discharge and even chronic care, an area that we’ve gotten into most recently.”

CMS’ “Acute Hospital Care at Home” waiver increased the model’s prevalence, with the underlying accelerator being the short-term need for hospital-bed availability.

But the second underlying accelerator was a more long-term one: the recognition that the home would be an increasingly important site of care.

“We have customers saying to us, we’re absolutely going to go after the CMS waiver and take advantage of that opportunity,” Hussain said. “But they see this as something that they’re going to have to invest in to be able to continue to provide care for the populations they serve moving forward.”

Biofourmis has other partnerships with health systems and hospitals across the country as well, though Hussain didn’t give an exact client number. The company believes its continuous monitoring capabilities – as well as its tech, AI and data foundation – give it a leg up.

“I think that’s where you need to look out for us,” Hussain said.

Other providers in the mix

The Rocklin, California-based Luna is a physical therapy provider that partners with health systems and physician groups. Its tech-enabled model is live in 31 markets today, and it’s hoping to expand to 16 or 17 more in the near future.

That expansion is being driven by interest from health systems looking to reach patients in their homes.

“It’s our goal at some point over the course of the next several quarters to be aligned with a health system partner in each of the markets in which we operate,” Ryan Lewis, the head of health system sales at Luna, told HHCN. “Then, we can really build upon this moniker of hospital-at-home [to also include] rehab at home. … Our focus is being a leader in on-demand, at-home physical therapy.”

After conducting an analysis, Luna identified that 70% of patients do not end up completing their plans of care when they’re going to a clinic. In other words, they’re not getting the proper benefits from physical therapy.

The second part of the analysis revealed that nearly 90% of those patients could be served in the home.

“When they don’t get that care, it leads to a lot of downstream, ineffective costs for the health systems and for the health care industry as a whole,” Lewis said.

Luna’s platform allows it to match patients with all sorts of needs – in all sorts of places – with the right physical therapist. The “Uber” or “DoorDash” of physical therapy, as the company puts it.

“The pandemic has been an accelerant for health systems to explore creative and innovative ways to deliver care outside of the health systems,” Lewis said. “So what I think we’ve seen is this intersection of health systems who are recognizing the need to expand outside of the proverbial four walls of the health systems, especially as they close facilities for things like elective procedures."