The Benefits of Hospital Care at Home
April 11, 2023
Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, a new version of the old-fashioned house call is now on the rise: Hospital-at-Home health care. The program provides comprehensive medical care to patients in the comfort of their own homes.
“Given the option between receiving hospital-level care at home or being hospitalized, most patients would prefer to stay at home,” says Brooke Nutter, Senior Director Care Transitions and Inpatient Rehab at University Hospitals. “And not only do we see improved patient satisfaction and outcomes, these programs also offer substantial cost benefits.”
How Do Hospital-at-Home Programs Work?
Patients are evaluated for Hospital-at-Home care either in the emergency department or after they’ve been admitted to a hospital for inpatient care. To get approved for the program, they must pass both a medical and social screening.
“It’s important to note that the Hospital-at-Home program is completely voluntary,” says Nutter. “No one is required to get their inpatient care at home. The first thing we ask the patient is if they want home care. People may decline for any number of reasons. Some feel more secure getting their medical treatment in a traditional inpatient hospital setting. Others may have concerns about safety or hygiene issues in their home.”
Once a patient is approved for the program, the team meets to plan their medications and meals, and coordinates the delivery and setup of any specialized medical equipment. A dedicated team of paramedics then safely transports the patient to their home.
While in the program, patients receive the following services at their homes:
24/7 Remote Patient Monitoring
Each patient is given a monitoring device to wear that automatically sends vital sign information, including oxygen levels, respiration rate and pulse rate, to a hospital-based care team 24 hours a day/7 days a week.
Daily In-Person and Virtual Visits
Patients receive in-person visits from a nurse or a paramedic at least twice daily. Also, a doctor or other medical professional will meet with the patient once a day either in-person or virtually on a smart phone or computer.
As part of the program, prescription medications and oxygen are delivered to the patient’s home. Frequent in-person or virtual meetings between the patient and their care team are scheduled to review or modify the medication schedule, check that the patient is taking their medications correctly and check that the current medication dosage is effective in managing their condition.
Patients receive three meals a day, just as they would at a hospital. The patient orders their meals from a menu for three days at a time. Meals are delivered daily and approved by the patient’s care team to ensure any dietary restrictions are met.
Specialty Care and Services
If needed, other medical professionals may be involved in the patient’s care, either in-person or remotely. Specialty services offered include respiratory care, laboratory or radiology services, and physical/occupational/speech therapy.
24/7 Access to Their Care Team
When receiving care, patients have 24/7 phone access to the UH Hospital-at-Home care team should they have questions or concerns or if a new health issue arises or their condition worsens.
Benefits of Hospital-at-Home Programs
Benefits of these programs include:
- Reduced patient stress
- Shorter length of stay
- Better recovery times due to healing in a familiar environment with the presence and support of loved ones
- Less need for emergency medical services
- Lower risk of hospital-acquired infections
- Family members can be involved in care planning
How Is It Different From Home Health Care?
Hospital-at-Home programs are not the same as home health care. In traditional home care, the patient has already been discharged from an inpatient hospital.
“A nurse making a traditional home care visit typically focuses on teaching the patient or the patient’s caregiver how to administer follow-up care," says Nutter. "For example, they may instruct the patient how to correctly take their antibiotics or change a wound care dressing. In a Hospital-at-Home program, a medical professional does these things for you.”
UH Hospital-at-Home is an innovative program that allows patients who would be admitted to a hospital to choose to recover at home, while maintaining hospital-level care.