In communities that otherwise would lack access to care, essential hospitals reach outside their walls to meet patients’ needs. Telehealth services have proved to be an important tool in the provider arsenal to increase access to care for underserved populations. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for flexibility to provide patient-centered care that best meets the unique needs and circumstances of individuals and communities.
In addition to leveraging telehealth, many essential hospitals have benefited from an innovative program — the Acute Hospital Care at Home waiver — to provide hospital-level care in patients’ homes. Of particular relevance to essential hospitals, hospital-level care in the home provides a unique opportunity to understand patients’ social context and to identify barriers to health, including challenges to medication adherence, worsening memory impairment, and resource limitations.
America’s Essential Hospitals commends the flexibility Congress has provided to date, as hospitals respond to this unprecedented public health crisis. This flexibility has allowed hospitals to leverage technology to provide effective access to care and increased capacity through alternative care sites. As Congress continues to consider legislation during and after the pandemic, it should make permanent policies that allow providers to expand access to care, including telehealth and hospital-at-home, to improve the health of their communities.