healthcare worker takes notes with masked patient

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If the pandemic has done anything positive, it has been highlighting the benefits of in-home medical care. That’s the sweet spot for Boston, MA-based Prospero Health. The company and its team of physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers and care coordinators provide home-based care to patients in 26 states.

McKnight’s Home Care Daily spoke to Patricia Kirkpatrick, a registered nurse and Prospero’s director of quality and performance Improvement about the explosive growth the company has undergone in the past year.

McKnight’s Home Care Daily: You were well-positioned going into the pandemic. What has the company experienced in the past year?

Patricia Kirkpatrick

Patricia Kirkpatrick: As the COVID-19 pandemic became more apparent, the comprehensive model of care that we have really became more important  because we had patients concerned about being safe. They are very frail, they have a lot of serious illness and issues and are high-risk. It was paramount for us to be sure that they were remaining safe at home, lowering their risk of exposure to COVID-19 and also helping them avoid those unnecessary office and hospital visits. To do that we partnered with a company called GrandPad, a first-of-its-kind tablet for seniors to improve access to care through live video. We’ve really seen that patients have enjoyed that.

McKnight’s Home Care Daily: As we emerge from the pandemic, do you think your business will decline if people opt for office visits again?

Patricia Kirkpatrick: 40 million people are living in the U.S with advanced disease and it’s really taking an emotional toll on seniors. We really look for the need for this type of care and support to continue to grow. One of the things about this type of delivery model is that we can balance the needs for in-home care and telemedicine as well. During the pandemic people did get to experience telemedicine, so I think there will be a desire to still have a hybrid approach where you can have your medical care provider in your home and you can also interact with them in a telemedicine type of mode. I think we’re still going to see a lot of growth. There are a lot of complex disease issues that people are dealing with and I think we’re well-suited to provide that palliative approach to primary care needs in their homes.

McKnight’s Home Care Daily: Many patients do like the convenience of telehealth, but there are questions about whether payers, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will extend it beyond the public health emergency. Are you confident they will?

Patricia Kirkpatrick: I have been engaged in some discussions with NCQA (National Committee for Quality Assurance) that CMS has had on telemedicine care. A report that NCQA released earlier this year did lay out the benefits for telemedicine, both from a clinical care delivery and effectiveness point of view, but also from a cost-of-care and quality of life perspective. I think telemedicine is here to stay, but it’s something that augments in-person care and doesn’t replace that.

McKnight’s Home Care Daily: Despite the success of telehealth, how important is it to still come into homes and provide care?

Patricia Kirkpatrick: As a registered nurse, I really believe in the mission of laying on of hands. You really can’t replace that. Certainly you can see certain things in a video visit. You can add in some biometric measurements, but there still is a need to actually touch the patient, to look at them not through a video screen and really take the whole environment in.

That’s the other thing that we have found. As part of our comprehensive program, we look at social determinants of health needs that impact quality of life and the quality of medical care. So we are really those eyes and ears inside a patient’s home that a primary care physician may not have if they don’t have the ability to do in-home visits.

McKnight’s Home Care Daily: You work with home healthcare providers. How important is their role in the care Prospero Health provides?

Patricia Kirkpatrick: We really view the home health agency as one of the tools providing support in the home, just as we may have a vendor come in and provide labs or an imaging service. There are services that home health can provide such as wound care and that’s where home health could come in and support that care.