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Largest health care system in Massachusetts now offering hospital level treatment at home

Mass General Brigham introduces at home hospital program
Mass General Brigham introduces at home hospital program 02:19

BOSTON - The next time you need hospital care, you might be able to stay in your own home. Mass General Brigham, the largest health care system in Massachusetts, is expanding a program called Home Hospital

It is a model administrators say can improve outcomes and save money.

We met with 89-year-old Jerry Leonard at his apartment in Boston's West End. He recently recovered after 13 days of hospital treatment for pneumonia and heart disease. Most of those days he was able to recover in his own living room with an amazing view of the Zakim Bridge.

"In an ambulance I came home. A nurse met me here," Jerry explained of that first day home. "We came up to my apartment, she put the bracelet back on, hooked me up with an IV thing, hooked me up with an oxygen mask."

The model uses a combination of nurses and other caregivers who come to the home, along with a telemedicine system that is set up by the hospital. MGB takes care of all of the equipment, including the internet connection. It may sound expensive, but Dorner said it's still cheaper than inpatient care.

"What we bring into the home is 24/7 monitoring of your vital signs, with single point click access to get your care team, much like a call bell if you were down the hall from the nurse's station in the hospital, it's just done remotely," explained MBG emergency physician Dr. Stephen Dorner, who is also leading the way on this innovative model of care. "These are some of the most meaningful encounters that our caregivers can participate in and then we know it costs a lot less."

According to Dorner, Home Hospital can help alleviate the emergency department crowding that often leaves patients lining hallways on gurneys for hours waiting to be admitted. This model can be used to treat all kinds of acute and chronic conditions like, heart disease, COPD, pneumonia, urinary tract infections, skin infections, kidney infections. 

"Those are the kinds of things that you are going to sit in the hospital and be monitored while you get antibiotics. We can do it at home," Dr. Dorner said.

Jerry told us he looked forward to seeing the nurses and other medical care providers and he thinks he actually got more one-on-one attention that he would have received in the hospital. 

"My home program started around 7 a.m. A man would deliver medicine and at 9 o'clock, two nurses arrived with backpacks. They would be here for an hour-and-a-half or two hours," he said.

Jerry said he loved being able to recover in his own space and that's something providers say contributes to better outcomes.

"Decreases in readmission, decreases in post-acute facility utilization because patients are up and moving around more when they're in Home Hospital compared to being confined to a hospital bed," Dr. Dorner said.

Jerry is giving his experience a glowing review. "I think it's an incredible program," he told WBZ.

Mass General Brigham was one of the first facilities to offer this and the model took off during the pandemic, but all home hospitals are currently operating under a special waiver from the federal government. 

There are several bills that could make this permanent. If that happens, we can expect to see a lot more of this in the future.

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