BOSTON – Hospital care in the home can save money and improve outcomes for acutely ill adults, according to a recent study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
“We believe that people can heal from an acute illness in their home and we wanted to show that this can be done in a high-quality, safe, cost-effective manner,” wrote Dr. David Levine, the study’s principal investigator.
The study, “Hospital-Level Care at Home for Acutely Ill Adults: a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial,” included adults with any infection or exacerbation of heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma who were admitted via the Emergency Department at either Brigham and Women’s Hospital or Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital.
Nine patients received their care at home, while 11 patients in a control group received the usual care in the traditional inpatient hospital. All patients were interviewed on admission, at discharge, and 30 days after discharge.
The patients who were cared for at home received a daily visit from an attending general internist and two daily visits from a home health registered nurse, as well as 24-hour physician coverage and electronic connectivity, including continuous monitoring, video and texting.
Cost and utilization were significantly less for those who were home hospitalized, the study found. The cost was reduced by about half for those at home compared to those in the traditional hospital, and those at home also had significantly more physical activity.
“Our preliminary data suggest that home hospitalization reduces the cost of care,” Levine said. “This provides a great signal that if implemented at scale, we could see a sizable reduction in the cost of hospitalization.”