One of the Largest Health Systems in the US Is Diving into Home-Based Care

Tampa General Hospital has thrown its hat into the home-based care ring.

To pull this off, the hospital has formed a partnership with the Visiting Nurse Association of Florida (VNA), a home health agency. Together, the two organizations have formed TGH Home Care, powered by VNA of Florida. The joint entity will offer a variety of home-based care services for Tampa General patients and the broader Florida communities of Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee, Hardee and Highlands counties.

Overall, the services will include a combination of both in-home personal care and nursing services, including home health, skilled nursing, rehabilitation, chronic disease management, medical social services and more.

The organization has cast a wide net regarding the types of patients that will be eligible to receive these care services, Adam Smith, executive vice president and chief ambulatory officer of Tampa General, told Home Health Care News.

“Any patient who is discharged from any hospital – it doesn’t have to be Tampa General Hospital – who has a physician’s order for a home health follow-up is eligible for these services,” he said.

Tampa General Hospital is a nonprofit academic medical center and one of the largest hospitals in the U.S.

Meanwhile, VNA is a Medicare-certified agency that delivers care in the home setting. In total, VNA has more than 1,000 health care professionals on staff, including nurses, as well as physical, occupational and speech therapists.

In terms of the partnership, TGH Home Care will be operated by VNA. In collaboration with Tampa General Hospital, the agency will handle the operations and staffing. Tampa General Hospital will also have leadership team members that will serve on the board of this new entity.

While this isn’t the first time Tampa General Hospital has engaged in a home-based care partnership, it’s the first partnership of this magnitude for the organization, according to Smith.

“Patients discharged from Tampa General Hospital will always have their choice of home care agency,” he said. “But we now have a partnership with a home care agency where we can create those care paths, we can make sure we have the data to follow up and we know, specifically, the outcomes of the patients that are going to be served through this entity.”

The organization chose to partner with VNA, in particular, because of its reach. VNA has the licenses to practice throughout the state of Florida.

“That was important to us because we have patients that come from all over the state for some of our really high complex care, like transplant and other programs,” Smith said. “When those patients go back home anywhere in the state, although it’s not officially part of the partnership, knowing that we do have a relationship with the Visiting Nurses Association was really important to us.”

Another element that made the prospect of a partnership attractive was VNA’s commitment to quality. Smith noted that VNA is a five-star Medicare rated home care agency.

Looking ahead, Smith believes that TGH Home Care will be a “game-changer” for Tampa General Hospital.

“Typically, if we don’t have a connection with a home care agency, a person gets readmitted to the hospital,” he said. “It’s a high cost of care — it may not be the best quality of care for the patient. With a relationship like this, we could do early interventions. It really sets the platform for us to be almost, I’ll say creative, where maybe we can come up with programs venturing into hospital-at-home and different things like that.”

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