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COVID-19 driving expansion of ‘hospital-at-home’ treatment

August 22, 2020

The essential need to isolate COVID-19 patients to prevent the spread of infection is driving strong growth in “hospital-at-home” programs enabled by communications technology, portable medical equipment and teams of healthcare professionals.

The programs represent a small slice of the roughly 35 million U.S. hospitalizations each year, but they are growing fast with boosts from Medicare and private health insurers. Like telemedicine, the concept stands to become more popular with consumers hooked on home delivery and other Internet-connected conveniences.

Patients opting for this type of “at home” care are typically acutely ill with chronic heart failure, respiratory ailments, infections and complications from diabetes but do not need 24/7 intensive care.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic emerged earlier this year, some hospitals were considering at-home-care programs to absorb temporary patient spikes — and avoid the high cost of new buildings.

Some hospitals have mounted their own at-home programs. In late March, eight of the Atrium Health system’s 36 hospitals in the Carolinas and Georgia began one for COVID-19 patients who don’t need intensive care. It’s already treated about 11,000 people.

Selected tickers: Humana (NYSE:HUM), HCA Healthcare (NYSE:HCA), Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC), Community Health Systems (NYSE:CYH), Universal Health Services (NYSE:UHS)

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