When a patient needs urgent medical care or serious medical treatment that requires life-sustaining equipment, they should be in a hospital. However, home care is an attractive option once the danger has passed, and the patient is convalescing. According to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), long-term hospital stays put patients at increased risk of sleep deprivation, infections, falling, and mental and physical deconditioning. Moving patients to their usual place of residence as soon as it's safe is best for the patient and the hospital system. It frees up beds and other resources for patients in need.
What is Hospital Care?
Hospital care refers to medical services provided in a government or private hospital setting. It has accommodations for sleeping and can provide 24/7 care from doctors, licensed nurses, and other medical staff. Hospitals often offer a number of medical services. Many contain operating rooms, emergency rooms, and intensive care facilities. They have a lab for medical testing, and imaging facilities, as well as other services. Hospital care can be inpatient, where the patient is admitted and stays overnight, or outpatient, where the patient has a procedure and then returns to their residence.
What is Home Care?
Home care includes a wide range of health care services that are given at home to treat an illness or injury. Typically, home care patients are dealing with chronic medical conditions, receiving palliative care, or are elderly. Home care is usually less expensive and more convenient than hospital care, and the care can be as effective as that received in a hospital or skilled nursing facility without the risk of hospital-acquired infections. In a Cochrane analysis of over 20 papers comparing hospital to home hospital care, no significant difference in outcomes were found in those treated in hospital vs at home (Shepperd and Illife, 2005).
How are Connected Devices Useful in Home Care?
In a home health care setting, medical devices at the house can connect with the health care agency’s computer system over the internet. That allows remote patient monitoring of vital signs such as blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and glucose. Smart pill boxes can improve medication adherence, as health care workers or family members are alerted when a patient misses their medication. These digital health devices enable patient monitoring without confining them to the hospital.
What are the Benefits of Home Care Over Hospital Care?
Home care offers a wide range of benefits to patients whose clinical situation can be managed at home.
Recovering Surrounded by Your Loved Ones
Social isolation and loneliness can be significant problems for patients. They can lead to depression and have been shown to cause a substantial decline in both physical and mental wellbeing. Being stuck all day in a hospital for weeks on end can trigger feelings of loneliness, as their long days sitting in bed are only interrupted by the occasional nurse visit or doctor check. Recovering at home, surrounded by family and familiar surroundings, may be better for a patient’s mental wellbeing. Patients who stay in a hospital are often stuck in bed for long periods of time. This leads to deterioration of mobility, fitness, and muscle strength. Many patients who go home get dressed daily and move around more, helping with rehabilitation. They can also sleep more and are at lower risk of infection. However, this can also cause increased strain on carers at home.
Cheaper Compared to Being in a Hospital
Home health care has significantly lower costs associated with it as opposed to staying in a hospital. Hospital care costs include:
- Administrative costs
- Pharmacy costs
- Lab tests
- Costs for nurses, radiologists, technicians, and specialists
- Equipment and supplies
While some of those expenses are also part of home care, patients at home typically have fewer lab orders and fewer medical consultations. Equipment is often less expensive, and there aren’t administrative fees to stay at home. One study that looked at hospital-level care for acutely ill adults found it was 52% less expensive to stay home, and none of the home-care patients suffered from adverse events due to their home care (Levine et al, 2018).
More Freedom and Independence
Patients staying at home can come and go as they please, as long as their medical condition allows it. They can meet friends, go shopping, and live their independent life. In contrast, patients in a hospital are often stuck in bed with limited places to go to or people to see.
Using The Latest At-Home Drug Therapy Technology
For patients recovering at home, there are some drug therapy tools that help to ensure they receive the proper doses of the right medications. The Sapphire pump is an infusion system designed to deliver medications to patients at home as well as in a hospital setting. The device has six delivery modes, preset programs, and is suitable across the continuum of care. It offers a wide range of flow rate support and is easy to use. With Sapphire Connect, (a Sapphire Infusion Pump accessory currently under development and pending clearance), the pump will be transformed into a wireless connected device. Enabled with a cellular SIM card, it will enable health care providers to view treatment data on a cloud based platform. Sorrel, under development by Eitan Medical, plans to offer a wearable drug delivery platform. The device attaches to the patient's arm and uses a pump to deliver pre-filled doses of medications as prescribed. The device is fully connected over Bluetooth and NFC and integrated with smart sensor capabilities to ensure all medications are captured in the patient’s medical records.
Home Care is Becoming the More Attractive Option
The high cost of hospital care and the health benefits of home care are joining forces and making home health care the preferred option when clinically indicated. Patients can continue to live in the comfort of their homes while maintaining a high quality of healthcare.
Contact us to learn more about how Sapphire and Sorrel infusion and home therapy pumps can make home care a reality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Better to Recover at a Hospital or at Home?
When medical conditions allow, most people would prefer to recover at home. Hospitalized patients are at higher risk of infection, sleep deprivation, and falling (1), while home care patients are able to spend time in the comfort of their own home, surrounded by loved ones while receiving a comparable level of care.
What are the Technologies Available for At-Home Care?
Home care doctors are able to connect to vital sign monitors, to track a patient’s blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature from their office. Connected devices such as sensors on pill boxes can also help track drug compliance. Connected infusion devices allow health care professionals to remotely monitor treatment data and potentially increase safer medication delivery (2)
How are Connected Devices Useful in Home Care?
Connected devices enable medical professionals to monitor patients who are recovering at home. Doctors and nurses can get insights into the treatment of their patients based on data that the devices share with the health care agency’s computer system and can help guide future treatment plans. For infusion pump data, analyzing infused patient data and providing near real-time analytics and alerts strengthens the patient-provider relationship, and may improve overall patient care and outcomes.
(1)Springer Link (Levine, D.M., Ouchi, K., Blanchfield, B. et al. Hospital-Level Care at Home for Acutely Ill Adults: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. J GEN INTERN MED 33, 729–736 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-018-4307-z) NHS
(2)Shepperd S, Iliffe S. Hospital at home versus in-patient hospital care. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005 Jul 20;(3):CD000356. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD000356.pub2. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(1):CD000356. PMID: 16034853
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