As I recently reported, the Mayo Clinic has managed to continue with its IT innovation program despite the financial and operational stresses imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As it turns out, the system has some pretty ambitious plans.
Earlier this month, it announced plans to implement new AI-based technology designed to improve the efficiency of the triage process at its Rochester, MN location. More recently, the Clinic has set plans to roll out a new care model offering advanced services to patients in their homes, working in partnership with tech vendor Medically Home.
The Clinic will begin enrolling patients in the advanced care program in July and August of this year, working with patients served by its Jacksonville, FL and Eau Claire, WI locations. Patients who opt in and qualify for the program will be transitioned quickly from the hospital to their home.
The program is offering a wide range of services at home, including infusions, skilled nursing, medications, laboratory and imaging services, behavioral health and rehabilitation services. Mayo will support the program with help from a network of paramedics, nurses and support team members.
These programs are part of a larger initiative known as the Mayo Clinic Platform, which looks at ways to leverage emerging technologies such as AI, connected health and natural language processing. (A side note: the program is run by high-profile health IT leader John Halamka, M.D., who previously served as CIO for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.)
Mayo kicked off the initiative with its Clinical Data Analytics Platform, which will conduct advanced data analytics efforts on de-identified data from the Clinic and other organizations along with clinical research information.
Mayo’s venture into delivering hospital care at home could not be more timely. If some of its patients can be treated at home rather than in a hospital setting, their odds of catching COVID-19 at a vulnerable moment can be reduced.
Not only that, the Clinic’s leadership seems to see this effort as the means to free up inpatient resources needed to address the pandemic and other critical care needs its hospitals tackle.
It’s worth noting that while the launch announcement for the hospital care at home program is intriguing, it seems likely that this care delivery model won’t come to full fruition for some time. After all, even if Mayo has sophisticated support in place, there is a lot we don’t know about how to track and manage more complex care outside of the hospital walls.
I predict that it will take at least a couple of years before this type of care delivery moves out of the experimental stage into a robust channel for care. In the meantime, however, I imagine that Mayo will learn a lot as it pushes more advanced services outside of its facilities.
Also, there’s no reason to think that Mayo won’t be able to deliver on the promise of this model. After all, there’s a reason why industry soothsayers have been predicting the migration of most care services to the perimeter of the healthcare system for many years. As the technology to support this approach continues to mature, the extent to which patients can be supported at home safely will only expand.