Discovery is planning to introduce South Africa’s largest “private virtual hospital’ known as Discovery Hospital at Home from January 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital healthcare technologies by patients and healthcare providers.
“One example – the use of telemedicine in the USA has seen unprecedented increases in online consultations,” explains Dr Ryan Noach, CEO of Discovery health.
“Within our ecosystem, Discovery Connected Care logins have increased more than seven fold, by 763%, since 2019.”
At the same time, there is a global 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.
“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,” says Dr Noach.
“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.”
In 2020, Discovery 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 Discovery 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,” explains Dr Noach.
He added that from January 2022, Discovery members will have access to Discovery Hospital at Home service.
The service is hospital-level care delivered safely and effectively in a patient’s home for a number of medical and surgical conditions that would otherwise require admission to hospital.
- Discovery 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.
“Overall, members are supported by highly personalised care team with skilled clinical staff, clinical protocols and best clinical practices, and appropriate medical scheme benefits,” says Dr Noach.
“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.”
Patients can 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 career for elderly members.
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