New emergency department program enables patients to recover at home safely

Penn Medicine established a program to improve support for patients after emergency department visits, helping them recover at home instead of the hospital.

A new service piloted at Penn Medicine allowed a proportion of patients to avoid hospitalization by providing them with greater support after visiting the emergency department. The vast majority of the patients enrolled in the service—nearly 9 out of 10—did not need to return to the hospital for care in the month that followed their initial visit. The study was published in Healthcare.

Neon EMERGENCY sign on front of hospital.

“The culture is shifting where we realize that hospitalization is not always the best option for patients—particularly patients with chronic illness,” says one of the study’s lead authors, Austin Kilaru, an emergency physician at Penn Medicine. “We need to find better ways of helping patients not just get healthy in a hospital, but stay healthy at home—whenever they are ready to be there.”

Increasingly, emergency departments care for greater shares of patients with acute symptoms and illnesses. Increased visits can lead to strain on hospitals, so Kilaru, co-author David Resnick, a senior innovation manager at Penn Medicine’s Center for Health Care Innovation, and their team devised a method to open capacity in emergency departments and hospitals—by sending patients home with the right resources and support to help them recover safely.

The project, which began in 2018 within the Center for Health Care Innovation’s annual Innovation Accelerator, was named Practical Alternative to Hospitalization (PATH).

This story is by Frank Otto. Read more at Penn Medicine News.