Being treated at home—not at a traditional hospital—is proving to be a viable option. A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that patients treated at home tend to get better faster and even save money compared to those who check into a hospital.
The study was conducted by a group of researchers who studied 91 adult patients admitted through the emergency department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The patients’ conditions ranged from asthma and infection to worsening chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and worsening heart failure.
The researchers randomly chose which patients were to receive care at home or stay at the hospital. The home-based care plan included intravenous (IV) medications, nurse and physician visits, point-of-care testing, remote monitoring, and video communication.
As of this writing, the small pilot study is the first randomized controlled trial of home hospital care performed in the U.S.
70% lower readmission rate
The study found that patients treated at home had lesser chances of getting readmitted. This finding is mostly attributed to the fact that home hospital patients were less sedentary, which goes a long way toward healing.
In comparison, patients in hospitals are usually stuck to their hospital beds. This physical inactivity harms their path to healing.
Furthermore, in-hospital patients are more susceptible to acquiring infection and disrupted sleep due to constant check-ins from physicians and nurses.
This difference in healing environments contributed to a lower readmission rate. According to the study, only seven percent of home hospital patients were readmitted at 30 days, compared to 23% of traditional hospital patients. This translates to a significant reduction of nearly 70%.
40% lower expenses
Not only are home hospital patients recovering well, but they are also spending less than their in-hospital counterparts. Researchers measured the direct cost of care, which includes medications, tests, supplies, and non-physician labor. They found that the total price of receiving care at home was 40% lower than standard care in hospitals.
Although this is promising, the researchers indicated that further work is required to determine the type of patient and the severity of illness for which home-based hospital care works best. This is because—depending on the severity of the condition—some at-home patients may need to factor in the cost of a caregiver as well as other personalized requirements.