Designing for flexibility in hybrid care services: lessons learned from a pilot in an internal medicine unit

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Pilosof, NP 
Barrett, M 
Oborn, E 
Barkai, G 
Zimlichman, E 

Digital transformation in healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic led to the development of new hybrid models integrating physical and virtual care. The ability to provide remote care by telemedicine technologies and the need to better manage and control hospitals' occupancy accelerated growth in hospital-at-home programs. The Sheba Medical Center restructured to create Sheba Beyond as the first virtual hospital in Israel. These transformations enabled them to deliver hybrid services in their internal medicine unit by managing inpatient hospital-care with remote home-care based on the patients' medical condition. The hybrid services evolved to integrate care pathways multiplied by the mode of delivery-physical (in person) or virtual (technology enabled)-and the location of care-at the hospital or the patient home. The study examines this home hospitalization program pilot for internal medicine at Sheba Medical Center (MC). The research is based on qualitative semi-structured interviews with Sheba Beyond management, medical staff from the hospital and the Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Architects, Information Technology (IT), Telemedicine and Medtech organizations. We investigated the implications of the development of hybrid services for the future design of the physical built-environment and the virtual technological platform. Our findings highlight the importance of designing for flexibility in the development of hybrid care services, while leveraging synergies across the built environment and digital platforms to support future models of care. In addition to exploring the potential for scalability in accelerating the flexibility of the healthcare system, we also highlight current barriers in professional, management, logistic and economic healthcare models.


Peer reviewed: True

Acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank the directors and staff at Sheba Medical Center, Sheba Beyond, and the ARC Innovation Center for their collaboration in the research.

digital transformation, healthcare design, home hospitalization, hospital-at-home, hybrid model, internal medicine, telemedicine, virtual care
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Frontiers in Medical Technology
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Frontiers Media S.A.
This research was supported by the Center for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) at the University of Cambridge [RG96631 NSAG/202]. EO is part supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care West Midlands [Grant WMCLAHRC-2014-1].