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Here’s how Discovery Health’s new virtual ‘hospital at home’ works

Here’s how Discovery Health’s new virtual ‘hospital at home’ works

Discovery Health is launching South Africa’s first-ever ‘virtual private hospital’ at home which will see patients’ vital signs being monitored remotely, nurse visits and food delivery to the door.

The country’s largest medical scheme introduced the  Discovery Hospital at Home innovation at its annual product update event with financial advisers on 30 September 2021.

“The golden thread running through the various elements we shared with the financial adviser community and media today, was our focus on personalisation of healthcare through digitally-powered processes,” Dr Ryan Noach, Discovery Health CEO said.

Discovery Health medical scheme members will have access to the Discovery Hospital at Home, which will see hospital-level care delivered safely and effectively in a patient’s home from 2022.

Discovery Health said that the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated patient and healthcare provider adoption of digital healthcare technologies.

“One example – the use of telemedicine in the USA has seen unprecedented increases in online consultations. Within our ecosystem, Discovery Connected Care logins have increased more than sevenfold, by 763%, since 2019,” Noach said.

“At the same time, there is a global need to the need to ease the burden on increasingly overwhelmed hospital systems while providing people access to quality, affordable care. These trends have highlighted the importance and relevance of the patient’s own home as a setting for access to and delivery of healthcare,” he said.

“Globally there has been a proliferation of hospital at home programmes with increasing evidence to support the treatment of medically appropriate conditions in a patient’s home. Experience has shown that hospital-level care can be delivered safely in a home-setting for a range of clinically appropriate conditions. Every year there are on average 50 000 medical and surgical admissions administered by Discovery Health, which could be safely managed in the patient’s home, Noach added.

In 2020, Discovery Health launched Connected Care for acute care at home, which provides qualifying members with clinically appropriate and patient-centric hospital-level care in their homes. Over 2021, multiple DHMS members were successfully treated for COVID-19 in their homes with good clinical outcomes and patient experience feedback.

“We learnt a lot from this experience, and used the insights gained to build capability to deliver hospital-level care for an expanded list of medical and surgical conditions to 750 patients at any point in time, across South Africa in their own homes.

From January 2022, DHMS members will have access to Discovery Hospital at Home – hospital-level care delivered safely and effectively in a patient’s home for a number of medical and surgical conditions that would otherwise require an admission to hospital,” Noach said.

This is how it will work:

  • DHMS members are admitted to Discovery Hospital at Home through a referral by their doctor.
  • Once admitted, they access integrated, cutting-edge technology that allows for real-time remote monitoring 24/7 of patient’s vital signs.
  • Medical providers continually assess the patient’s health status, monitor their medical stability, track treatment compliance, and recommend interventions when necessary.
  • When patient deterioration is detected, actionable notifications enable caregivers to deliver real-time clinical interventions.
  • Patients will be able to access a patient companion app with an easy-to-use interface and customisations that allow patients to  receive regular reminders, conduct online consultations, and receive their recovery plan over the course of treatment.
  • Qualifying members also have access to transport services, daily meals to cater for specific dietary requirements, discharge planning and care coordination and a 24-hour carer for elderly members.

“Overall, members are supported by highly personalised care team with skilled clinical staff, clinical protocols and best clinical practices, and appropriate medical scheme benefits,” Noach said.

“Together, these benefits and services ensure a seamless healthcare experience for patients. Services are funded from members’ hospital benefits and are subject to pre-authorisations. Patients can always reach a clinician if they have questions or concerns. Family members are kept up to date on the patient’s progress, either during the home visits, or through a virtual consultation. Depending on a patient’s specific needs, consultations with allied healthcare professionals may be incorporated into their personalised care plan,” Noach said.


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