PA Dept. Of Health Announces Innovative Care Delivery Models For Hospitals

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Wednesday in Harrisburg, the Wolf administration outlined guidelines for hospitals to implement three innovative care delivery models. 

The models are designed to increase patient access to care and preserve and increase access to high-quality care in communities that may be medically under-served.

Acting Health Secretary, Keara Klinepeter unveiled the models this afternoon and says they’ll give rural hospitals more flexibility while minimizing financial burdens.

Now two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals have had to rethink care options while adapting to unpredictability. Many, especially in rural areas, struggle with recruiting and retaining staff. Some have faced tough decisions, like whether to close or to completely change their care delivery options.

Klinepeter says the models announced today will give hospitals alternative options while still being able to serve the community.

“The Wolf Administration is committed to supporting innovative solutions and ideas to help provide quality patient care in our changing health care environment,” Klinepeter said. “Residents in northeastern Pennsylvania are already seeing the benefits of this approach,” she added.

Regional Hospital of Scranton interim CEO, Tom Bisignani, says the models have helped one of his rural hospitals continue its essential services.

“Because the Department of Health and local leaders were willing to work with us last year, we found a way to maintain important services for the people in Tunkhannock,” said Bisignani. “Health care delivery is constantly evolving, and hospitals need flexibility so we can continue providing high quality care where patients need it,” he added.

Klinepeter says it may also help rural hospitals that have been struggling well before COVID-19.

“These innovative delivery models will give many rural hospitals flexibility to address historical challenges so they can maintain access to care in their local communities,” said Klinepeter.

Provided below is a brief description of each delivery model option:

  • An Outpatient Emergency Department (OED) is an outpatient location of a hospital that offers only emergency services and is not located on the grounds of the main licensed hospital.
  • A Micro-Hospital is an acute care hospital that offers emergency services and maintains facilities for at least 10 inpatient beds with a narrow scope of inpatient acute care services, such as no surgical services.
  • A Tele-Emergency Department (Tele-ED) is an emergency department in an acute care or critical access hospital that is staffed by Advanced Practice Providers (APP) 24 hours per day/7 days per week with a physician available at all times through telecommunications but not physically present in the emergency department.

“We recognize that these care delivery models may not be exactly what the community is used to, but they are safe, cost-effective options that will maintain essential services in the community,” said Klinepeter. “They are proven, data-driven models that have been studied in several cases over decades.”

“This is a new era of delivery of care, and the Wolf administration is, and will continue to be supportive of innovative solutions that provide high quality, lower cost care and ensure access to every Pennsylvanian,” said Klinepeter.


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