Hospital-Level Care at Home
“To date, there has not yet been a randomized controlled trial of home hospital care performed in the U.S. other than our small pilot,” says David Levine, MD, MPH, MA. Levine is the corresponding author of a recent study which examined the benefits of giving patients hospital-level care right from their own home.
Investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that the home hospital model produced promising results which suggest a major shift in how health care services are conducted. We’ve outlined the most important findings of the study below:
Participants in the study were randomized to either be at the hospital for standard care, or to receive care at home.
Home-based care included nurse and/or physician visits, IV medications, remote monitoring, video communication, and point-of-care testing.
Researchers measured these costs, including labor, and found that it was 40% cheaper for the hospital to treat patients in their own homes. Furthermore, patients received fewer laboratory orders, imaging studies, and consultations.
Lower Readmission Rates
In thirty days after treatment, 7% of home hospital patients were readmitted for care, while readmission for traditional patients was 23%.
That’s nearly a 70% reduction of readmission rates for those who received home care.
Increased physical activity
Patients who received care at home were found to be more mobile and physically active than those in a traditional hospital room.
Homes provide a more comfortable environment for patients to move around in, and physical activity is known to be an important part of the healing process.
A Future of Home-Based Care
This study is just one more piece of evidence that suggests American health care is shifting in fundamental ways.
Not only is home-based care more convenient for patients who no longer have to leave the comfort of their home, but it lowers costs for the hospital.
Lowering costs for hospitals means lowering your medical bills, an equation which makes both parties happy.
Telehealth is on the rise, as many private services already offer ways for you to connect with doctors via your computer or phone.
Hospitals have much to gain from offering similar services, such as remote patient monitoring. Hospital stays are expensive, not just for you, but for the hospital too.
Allowing patients to go home earlier, and offering remote services such as calls with nurses or consultations with doctors is one way to cut costs for everyone.
If your health changes, rather than readmit you to the hospital, a mobile health team can visit your home.
Dr. Levine said, “Receiving care at home makes for a truly tailored experience. The answers to questions such as, ‘which medicines are you taking,’ or ‘what do you need help with during a typical day,’ and ‘what’s in your kitchen’ are easily discussed only when at home and have profound health and healing effects.”
Barriers to Home Hospital Care
There are still several remaining barriers to be broken before home hospital care becomes a regular service.
- Although home-based care can reduce costs for both the patient and the hospital, many health insurance providers do not currently cover the cost of home-based care. Coverage provided by the government programs Medicare and Medicaid is also limited.
- Understanding what kind of patients are best for home-based care is critical in maximizing both the safety and cost efficiency of the service. Patients treated at their homes in the successful Brigham and Women’s Hospital pilot trial had acute conditions including infection, worsening heart failure, worsening chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and asthma.
Telehealth On The Rise
Home-based care may seem a long way off to some however, the trajectory of the evolving telemedicine industry suggests we may see mobile health teams in our living rooms sooner than we think.
Companies like PlushCare already provide services such as remote doctor consultations via your phone or computer.
Our trusted doctors can prescribe antibiotic treatments for infection, help diagnose and treat cold, cough and flu symptoms, and can even prescribe PrEP medication for HIV prevention in less than 15 minutes, to name a few.
Services like these are already covered by many private insurers, and are a growing asset for both users and providers.
Less expensive than traditional doctor visits and more convenient than the hassle of going to your doctors office, remote consultations are a surging tool in healthcare.
The bottom line is that telemedicine makes sense. It’s time and cost efficient, not just for you but for health care providers.
Both private and federal programs already recognize that reality, and it won’t be long before such efficiency makes its way into the hospital industry.
Find out for yourself how much energy and money you can save by making an appointment with one of our trusted PlushCare doctors today.
Read More About Telehealth
Medicaid.gov. Telemedicine. Accessed January 29, 2020 at https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/telemedicine/index.html
Annal of Internal Medicine. Hospital-Level Care at Home for Acutely Ill Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Accessed January 29, 2020 at https://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2757637/hospital-level-care-home-acutely-ill-adults-randomized-controlled-trial