Hospital in the home services given a major boost with Calvary and Medibank tie up

Vanessa JanessenCHA Health Matters sits down with Calvary’s strategic director Vanessa Janessen to discuss its partnership with the largest private health fund to deliver more services in the home. 

Out of hospital care was given a major boost in the Federal Budget earlier this month with mental health and rehabilitation services the first services earmarked for delivery in the home. It followed the publication of a major report by CHA exploring the barriers to expansion in out of hospital care. 

Yet prior to the Budget announcement Calvary was busy inking a deal with an arm of health fund giant, Medibank Private, to deliver health services for the South Australian government into people’s homes. 

Calvary is combining its hospital and community care delivery expertise, with Medibank’s extensive community health teams experience in the contract for Wellbeing SA - an arm of the SA State Government that has a focus on prevention, identifies future health trends and develops new models of care.

 But unlike most other services which are about transitioning people who have received acute care in hospital back into their homes, the Calvary-Medibank joint venture, is delivering acute hospital care to public patients in the home via Wellbeing SA’s My Home Hospital service. 

Calvary’s National Director of Strategy and Service Development, Vanessa Janissen says: “This is quite different from traditional in home] services in that this is dealing with acute care. We are building virtual hospitals to be in people’s homes. Rather than the traditional bricks and mortar facilities that people have to come to.. instead we will be bringing  the hospital care to the community.” 

The initiative was in part driven by listening to consumers who have indicated they want the choice of being treated in their own homes rather than in a hospital, regardless of how good that hospital might be.

In the first year of operation My Home Hospital is initially focused on metropolitan Adelaide and five conditions; cellulitis; respiratory infections  and inflammations; kidney and urinary tract infections; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and venous thrombosis (DVT). A further eight conditions will be added in the second year and the service extended to the urban fringes of Adelaide. 

“Patients will be referred to us. We'll have what we call our virtual care centre where practitioners will work with the patient, referring clinicians and families/carers to check that our service is suitable for the patients condition, that they meet the criteria of services that we've been asked to provide and their home environment is safe place for care. We will then get them set up in their home with a care plan and supporting technology for the duration of their admission. Our doctors and nurses will then use a combination of face to face visits and remote telehealth to provide care and monitor the patient through their stay in My Home Hospital. Importantly we will keep the patients regular treating doctors informed,” says Vanessa.

Helping Calvary provide the scale of services will be Medibank’s business called Home Support Services, which Medibank acquired two years ago. The joint venture is also working with TelstraHealth to develop a remote monitoring system with devices in people’s homes able to relay information and diagnostics back to its virtual care centre and, if necessary, alert rapid response teams should a patient’s condition deteriorate. 

How does this bode for the traditional hospital? Earlier this year Calvary opened a brand new hospital in the heart of Adelaide, bringing together two facilities into one $350 million state of the art facility. 

“It has been a growing recognition in the health system that with the increasing demand coming through from ageing population and chronic disease that our approach to care will need to change. We just can’t keep building more and bigger hospitals.”

“But it is also not about replicating a hospital completely. We know that hospitals are still going to be needed into the future. This is not about doing away with them… it is about what is appropriate, what is the right level of care for that patient and in the right setting and how we get the balance right.” 

Governments across Australia are facing a growing health care bill and all of them are exploring different models of care for their populations. My Home Hospital will increase the current percentage of patients who receive acute care in their home in SA from the current level of 1.3% to 5% over five years. 

Calvary and Medibank see potential for this model beyond SA. Using its experience of working across different sectors - hospitals, aged care and retirement facilities and community care - Calvary believes it can offer a more integrated approach to delivering services, not just in the home but generally across the board. 

“We are really interested in how services integrate.. How do all our services work together? If you’re part of Calvary Care System how can we support you more holistically in your care needs. We are thinking about the patient’s [entire] journey,” says Vanessa, an accountant by training, who for the past two decades has worked in health strategy, most recently at NSW Health. 


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