Geraint Lewis, M.A., M.Sc., F.R.C.P., F.F.P.H.
A model of home-based coordinated care deployed recently in the United Kingdom offers promise in reducing hospital admissions in a relatively low-cost manner. The "virtual ward" program provides multidisciplinary case management services to people who have been identified, using a predictive model, as high risks for future emergency hospitalization. Virtual wards use the systems, staffing, and daily routine of a hospital ward to deliver preventive care to patients in their own homes. Patients report that they value the improved coordination of their care, while staff report satisfaction in working on a virtual ward and the opportunity to share problems and find solutions with colleagues who are caring for the same patients. With its intuitive appeal, the virtual ward model has been deployed in a number of locations in the U.K. and internationally, including the United States.