“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort,” says James Austen. So, instead of traveling and waiting for hours by standing in a queue, what if health care is provided to you at home? That’s why home hospital care (HHC) is a viable solution for physicians and patients. HHC is an innovative, technologically advanced, and effective care model in which certain patients receive hospital-level care at their homes compared to traditional hospitalization. HHC is an effective model regarding patient care experience, population health outcomes, and treatment cost.
The benefits of home hospital care
HHC provides treatment and care facilities to patients selected for the program through an eligibility criterion. These programs offer certain facilities that different patients require, including intravenous medications, respiratory therapies, blood tests, remote monitoring of heart rate, temperature, and respiratory rate. All these can be monitored virtually in a patient’s home.
The Johns Hopkins Model of Home Hospital Care has shown that the cost of treatment in this model is 32 percent less than traditional hospitalizations ($5,081 vs. $7,480). Moreover, the mean length of stay was also shorter, about one-third of the hospital stay, and lesser possibilities of delirium. More than a quarter of the US retired citizens suggest that health care expenses have hurt their retirement.
Controlling the COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an immense crisis in hospitals worldwide. This is on top of the growing population of baby boomers, increasing the demand for hospital facilities. The simplest and effective solution in such crises is to utilize the HHC model without spending a significant amount on constructing new infrastructure for patients. In such a dilemma, HHC can decrease the burden on hospitals as well as limit the extra shifts that physicians, nurses, and health care staff may have to take.
Increased patient satisfaction
HHC has a considerable impact on patient satisfaction because there is no pressure of any kind. The patient can be surrounded by their loved ones, including family and friends, and be treated at the same time without getting admitted to the hospital. At Presbyterian Healthcare Services, patient satisfaction at HHC was 90.7 on average, more significant than 83.9 at hospitalized care. Similar feedback has been seen all over the globe.
Patient-centered approach with better quality
HHC is a patient-centered approach in which respectful and responsive care is provided to the patient’s preferences. Participants in a workshop on health care regarded HHC as “around the kitchen table,” which means health care decisions and management is carried out right in front of the patient’s families at their doorstep. Moreover, the quality of care in HHC is comparable to hospitals.
Better wound management without hospital visits
Almost one-third of patients in HHC require wound care and management, of which more than 40 percent of patients suffer from multiple or compound wounds. Recent studies have shown that home hospital nurses can accurately identify and manage wounds efficiently (88 percent). Different means of communication are utilized to improve the efficacy; telemedicine is one of the effective methods to communicate with nurses of health care workers providing home care to the patients. The use of telemedicine has increased healing rate, decreased healing time, and lessened hospitalization of wound patients.
Decreased patient falls and hospital readmissions
Although hospitals have trained staff and health care workers, the number of falls after surgery or an illness is quite common. HHC can help decrease patient falls by allowing the patient’s family to play their part in patient management.
Hospitals are doubtlessly blessings, but so are our homes. Due to the continuous exponential population growth and the recent COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are under an immense crisis, thus, making it difficult to adjust and admit patients suffering from chronic illness.
One significant advantage of HHC is that there is limited psychological stress related to the hospital to the patient, which escalates the recovery process.
Moreover, HHC limits the chances of complications of sedatives, anesthesia, delirium, and restraints compared to a hospital. Hospital administrators, physicians, nurses, and health care workers should consider the HHC model to lessen the overcrowding of hospitals and improve health outcomes overall.
Satya Moolani is a premedical student.
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