To meet the growing need for acute care in rural areas, Ariadne Labs launched the Rural Home Hospital program. With initial funding from the Spark Grant Program, the initiative is testing whether a home hospital model — which was successfully implemented in an urban setting by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston — could be adapted for a rural setting.
Nearly 80 percent of rural America is deemed medically underserved by the federal government. One in five Americans live in rural areas and depend on their local hospital for care, but rural hospitals are closing and consolidating in record numbers. Residents must drive farther not only for emergencies but for the kinds of diagnostic tests and treatments usually provided in a hospital.
Under the Rural Home Hospital Model, a specially trained in-home clinician visits a patient’s home and uses portable, internet-connected diagnostic tools and video technology to remotely connect with a physician. A satellite-linked communications system ensures a reliable video link and continuous flow of data. The in-home clinician takes the patient’s vital signs and performs other diagnostic tests that are transmitted in real time to the physician. The physician is able to guide a medical exam and speak directly with the patient about diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.
Testing the Model
In September 2019, Ariadne Labs partnered with University of Utah Health to stage mock hospital admissions in two remote Utah communities. The effort provided key insights to how a home hospital model could be streamlined and scaled, and demonstrated how the right technologies, personnel, and protocols can bring new options to rural communities in need.
With additional funding from the Rx Foundation, Ariadne Labs and University of Utah Health conducted a feasibility pilot study to measure the outcomes of home hospital care in rural Utah with real patients.
Ariadne Labs has also partnered with the Thompson Family Foundation and three health systems, Blessing Health System of Quincy, Illinois, Appalachian Regional Healthcare, which serves areas of Kentucky and West Virginia, and Alberta Health Services in Canada to conduct the first randomized controlled trial of the rural home hospital model. During the three year trial, Ariadne Labs will work with these systems to build, launch, and evaluate a model to provide acute care at home.
Ariadne Labs is also working with the Indian Health Service and First Nations to build a comprehensive home hospital program for Native Americans who live in rural areas.