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December 12, 2023 | Katelyn Keenehan

Hospital-level care from your home

Covenant Health shared the successful launch of its 'Advanced Care at Home' program, which is the first virtual hospital initiative in Knoxville.

People with chronic illnesses often spend extensive time in the hospital, utilizing resources like beds, space, and staff for recurring care. However, what if there was a more convenient, cost-efficient, and comfortable way to address their needs?

Covenant Health‘s groundbreaking ‘Advanced Care at Home’ program introduces Knoxville’s first “virtual hospital,” combining telehealth advantages with hands-on care to create a patient-centric model. Covenant Health’s vice president of clinical informatics, Tiffany Cross, shared the program launched in March 2023, putting advanced technology at the forefront of healthcare.

“In today’s society, everybody has some piece of technology that’s getting them through their day, every single day. So, we asked ourselves how we could use technology to enhance patient care,” Cross said. “The goal of Advanced Care at Home is to bring high-quality, hospital-level care to patients in their home. This program allows us to get a view into the patient’s everyday living environment to treat their illness in a holistic way. We want to meet our patients where the are.”

Telehealth vs. Virtual Hospital

Telehealth appointments are conducted through video chat, whereas the virtual hospital combines telehealth services seamlessly with in-person care. Patients have access to advanced practice providers, mobile integrated health teams, and a range of support staff who visit them at home. The core difference lies in the coordination and delivery of care, with a central virtual command center overseeing patients’ well-being.

Advanced Care at Home allows the patient to receive the same hospital-level services as they would in a hospital. These services include nursing care, lab testing, imaging, medication administrations, and physical therapy all while being in the comfort of home.

With the virtual hospital, the care is instant. Patients have an immediate lifeline to their healthcare team. Each person who is eligible and opts into Advanced Care at Home receives a tablet from Covenant Health that can be used to communicate with nursing and physician staff.

Cross said the swift communication is a game-changer, eliminating the need for patients to wait for appointments or travel to a hospital for minor concerns.

Aside from the tablets, Covenant Health equips patients with other forms of cutting-edge technology.

Cross said Covenant Health provides each patient with an uninterrupted source of power, which will help their virtual care remain operational through power outages. Covenant Health also gives patients a specific telephone for emergency calls and a personal emergency response device for added security.

Comprehensive Monitoring at Home

Another benefit of the virtual hospital is continuous care. Patients are instructed how to monitor and report their blood pressure, pulse, and other necessary measurements. The data is transmitted electronically to the nursing staff, allowing for continuous assessment. This level of comprehensive monitoring enhances the quality of care and provides valuable insights into a patient’s health status.

There is a regularly scheduled in-home care team, which Cross said is a particular advantage of the program.

“One of the biggest wins that the patients love is they know their schedule ahead of time. You know at 10:30 you will have a morning visit with your nurse. At 12:30 you have physical therapy, at 1:00 your advanced practice provider is coming into the home, at 2:00 two nurses are coming to give you your IV medication,” Cross explained.

“You know everyone’s going to take care of you and do a wonderful job, but you just don’t always have that scheduled out in advance,” she said.

Virtual Hospitals of the Future

Covenant Health’s goal is to expand the Advanced Care at Home program to cover a broader region. Cross said the system would like to have a virtual hospital program in all 25 counties served by Covenant Health. The focus is on growth, adoption, and ensuring that this innovative healthcare model becomes accessible to a larger population.

Cross said the most significant challenge of the program is getting patients to fully support it.

Tiffany Cross shares about ‘Advanced Care at Home’ during KTech Pulse Summit 2023.

“What we’re trying to focus on is helping people understand what this program can do for you, and what the benefits are. It’s just a different way for you to get your care that may work better for you and your family,” Cross said.

Cross shared a quote from a recent patient who participated in the Advanced Care at Home program.

“I get to go home to the comfort of my bed and couch, be with my family and my dog. I get to heal from home where I always feel better,” read the review.

 

The Advanced Care at Home program offered by Covenant Health is a revolutionary way of delivering healthcare. Combining technology with compassionate and patient-centered care, the program is expected to usher in a new age of healthcare where patients can receive hospital-level care from the comfort of their own homes.


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