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Out of Crisis Perhaps Change?

The global pandemic has caused havoc in everyone’s life. The immediate effects of the current crisis are obviously negative. Out of every crisis, however, there are often some positive changes.

New York was the first region in the country to be hard hit by Covid. Hospitals were overwhelmed and as a result many people stayed away, choosing to fight the illness at home. Hospital at home services, which before Covid have been used on a limited basis to treat certain chronic conditions, have been utilized to treat Covid patients who otherwise would have needed to be admitted to a hospital.

Medicare relaxed its requirements to permit coverage for this type of treatment. Once a doctor provides authorization, a home health care agency can come in to the patient’s home to provide services under Medicare’s home health benefit. Telemedicine visits, intravenous lines and oxygen have also been provided and patients have monitored their own vitals through the use of pulse oximeters. A phlebotomist can come to the home to draw blood.

For many patients this type of home treatment has worked well and they have recovered from the illness. Hospitals have avoided the crush of cases in their emergency rooms and intensive care units. We are likely to see this type of home treatment in other areas of the country hard hit by the Coronavirus.

Longer term, as we see studies on how to improve our public health system, perhaps we will see more home treatment for other conditions beyond Covid. This could certainly be applied to the treatment and monitoring of the elderly with the hope that Medicare will be expanded to allow for it. It is still early and we don’t yet know how things will play out but it is an intriguing development for many Americans as we think about how our lives will be changed in the long term as a result of the current crisis.