‘We need to disrupt ourselves’: Tampa General’s CEO is all in on hospital-at-home expansion bill

Laura Dyrda (Twitter) – Becker’s Health IT

Hospital at home programs cover only acute care patients, but that could change with a new bill introduced in the Senate.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Tom Carper introduced the “At Home Observation and Medical Evaluation Services Act” to establish a hospital-at-home pilot program that includes patients able to leave the hospital but who still require observation.

“The pandemic taught us that meeting patients where they’re at is possible and often preferred,” Mr. Carper said in a Feb. 8 news release from Mr. Rubio’s office. “That’s why I worked to increase and expand access to hospital-level care from the comfort of home.”

John Couris, DBA, president and CEO of Florida Health Sciences Center, which includes Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital, couldn’t agree more. Tampa General’s team partnered with Mr. Rubio and Mr. Caper to develop the legislation, informed by Tampa General’s successful hospital-at-home program. The endeavor launched a year ago and has treated more than 300 patients.

Dr. Couris said the readmission rate among hospital at home patients is 4.5%, compared to 14% for patients cared for in the hospital. The program also has high quality and patient satisfaction scores and the clinicians participating enjoy seeing patients in their homes.

“They love it because it has afforded them the opportunity to go back to their roots of why they became doctors and nurses to begin with,” Dr. Couris told Becker’s. “The hospital at home program allows them to provide more care to patients and in their own spaces to support their complete health and wellness.”

The bill would establish a program to support treating patients in outpatient observation status in the comfort of their own space while providing them with the same standard of care and continuous monitoring that they receive in the hospital. For those participating hospitals this would allow them to treat patients at home and receive reimbursement for the care they are administering, thus potentially helping to alleviate capacity issues.

“It’s a smart and timely bill and an example of how the government can work with private industry to build something that improves quality and lowers cost,” Dr. Couris said. “I’m proud of our senator and his willingness to do this work. I’m proud of this team because we’re part of the organization that is working on this bill. It’s imperative that we in industry help lawmakers make the best decisions for their constituencies at the state and federal level.”

Dr. Couris has worked closely with legislators for years and seen a willingness to innovate together.

He also sees these relationships as critical to the comprehensive work in our industry.

“We must be part of a bigger conversation and need to come to the table with creative solutions and ideas to change the way healthcare is delivered,” Dr. Couris said. “Hospital at home is a great way to do it provide better access to high quality care, improve outcomes and services and and control costs while also improving the morale of nurses and physicians. Now and thanks to our collective efforts, we have a bill in place that can enable the proliferation of the program and serve a population of patients that may not need to be in the hospital.”

Dr. Couris is focused on disrupting healthcare from within and forging innovative partnerships to solve big challenges.

“We need to disrupt ourselves in this industry and we need to get comfortable with failing, and failing fast,” he said. “We need to enhance these kinds of partnerships to accelerate change. More of this needs to happen. Let’s collaborate, innovate and partner — this is what we want and should be doing. Let’s drive appropriate disruption into and through the industry to improve quality, lower cost and pass on value to the consumer in a reproducible way.”