New analysis reveals the potential of at-home rehabilitation

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Medibank says more than 90 per cent of its customers who have joint replacement surgery and receive rehabilitation at home experience clinically important improvement, with two-thirds giving the program 10-out-of-10.

The company said its 'Medibank at Home' program has now treated 20,000 of its customers, providing chemotherapy, dialysis, rehabilitation, palliative care and infusions in the comfort and privacy of their home.

An analysis of the program undertaken by KPMG found rehabilitation at home after a joint replacement costs only 40 per cent of the price of inpatient rehabilitation while maintaining high patient satisfaction.

Medibank chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan said at-home treatment is a good alternative for eligible patients.

“More than 11,000 customers have used one of our rehab in the home programs in consultation with their doctor,” Dr Swan said. “Across all our healthcare services, Medibank supports an average of 384 virtual hospital beds each day.

“COVID-19 demonstrated the importance of alternative care approaches and more at-home and telehealth options for patients. Medibank at Home is more than just physical treatment - customers tell us that being able to access healthcare at home is changing their lives for the better.

“We know people want more choice in where their healthcare is delivered and we want to meet that demand especially as healthcare costs continue to rise. Our commitment is to ensure Australians have more choice in how their care is delivered without putting further pressure on insurance premiums.

“We are starting to see a change in the healthcare industry as more care shifts from inpatient hospital settings to care in the home or in the community, where clinically appropriate. There’s a growing body of evidence that this can deliver the same or better outcomes at a lower price, allowing us to pass savings onto customers,” said Dr Swan.

High rates of private hospital inpatient joint replacement rehabilitation contribute to rising health insurance premiums. Approximately 40 per cent of joint replacement patients in private hospitals go to inpatient rehabilitation. This compares to only 17 per cent of patients in public hospitals.

Medibank said the KPMG analysis found $95 million in benefits could be saved across the private health insurance sector if 50 per cent of private inpatient rehab after a joint replacement was replaced with at-home rehab.

“By 2030, as more people require joint replacement surgery, these savings could be as high as $189 million per year, and more than 1,200 hospital beds could be reassigned to patients who need acute or critical care,” said Dr Swan.

“Rehab at Home, as well as our other at-home care options, is responding to patient needs in the healthcare system. 80% of Medibank customers who have participated in the Rehab at Home program rated it very highly and two-thirds gave it a 10-out-of-10 score.”