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MedStar Health Home Care VP talks advantages of hospital-at-home care

The demand for at-home healthcare services has boomed since the pandemic.
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Carrie Koenig

· 3 min read

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Today’s Making Rounds spotlights Carrie Koenig, VP of patient experience and communication at MedStar Health Home Care. Koenig will be a panelist on Wednesday at Healthcare Brew’s event Bench to Bedside & Beyond: The Future of Health Tech, which is taking place in New York City (and virtually). During the event, Koenig will discuss how technology is allowing providers to bring hospital care into the home.

Koenig gave Healthcare Brew a preview of the work MedStar is doing in the home health space and discussed the advantages of hospital-at-home care.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in healthcare?

My focus is on patient experience…how patients feel when they’re in the care of MedStar Health Home Care. It’s also identifying service shortfalls: How can we improve their experience by focusing on service improvement initiatives? And if the service isn’t going well or if I recognize that there are things that we can do better, identifying process improvement initiatives.

What are the benefits of at-home healthcare?

Let’s say Mrs. Jones has a stroke. She could have some left-side weakness caused by the stroke, maybe her speech is impaired, maybe she’s having a hard time understanding things. She’s in the hospital and has been there for a whole week, so she’s been in bed, she’s lost a lot of strength, she’s lost a lot of ability.

Well, the doctors and the nurses in the hospital are gonna say, “There’s no way that we can send Mrs. Jones straight home and she’ll be safe. She’s going to end up right back in the hospital again.”

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In those situations, the doctor would say, “Let’s prescribe in-home healthcare. She needs a nurse to help her with her new prescriptions, she definitely needs physical therapy to get her up and exercising to help her rebuild her strength…she could use speech and language pathology to help her regain her ability to talk or to swallow.”

If we had sent her straight home…she’d be at risk for falling and for not knowing how to take her medications appropriately. All of those things could contribute to Mrs. Jones coming back into the hospital again. That’s why in-home healthcare is so valuable…because we bring that medical treatment to our patients right in their homes where they really need it.

Have you seen the demand for hospital-at-home services increase since the pandemic?

Certainly the demand is increasing. If you keep your patient in the hospital for too many days longer than what the insurance company has authorized, then the hospital is eating that cost, so there’s an increased incentive there for hospitals to send their patients home to receive care.

During the pandemic, hospitals were so full—there just weren’t enough beds to treat all the people who needed care, so the people who it was safe to send home, they wanted to be able to send home and keep them out of the hospital. Because people would much prefer to be healing safely at home. There’s certainly been a rise in interest in home healthcare for that reason.

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.