For chronically ill patients, care is a daily need. It is a continual practice that gets folded into a patient’s life beyond the hospital and the moment of medical crisis. By centralizing acute care to hospitals, we have missed key opportunities to fully care for patients with long-term needs. The hospital must extend far beyond its brick-and-mortar walls to care for people directly within their homes.¹
Extending the hospital into the home has become increasingly popular, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted what an integral role the home plays in people’s lives and well being. The hospital-at-home model, where a patient can be cared for from the comfort of their own homes using remote patient monitoring (RPM), connected to their health care team through daily monitors and virtual meetings, facilitates a kind of care that’s everyday.
But everyday care isn’t just care that occurs every day; it’s a holistic system that attends to a patient’s health pre and post crisis, to their needs and concerns beyond the medical event, and to their overall wellbeing. It’s care that defines a person’s health.
A More Holistic Way of Doing Medicine
Care at home means holistic care. It is a continuous and complete process that takes into consideration both the everyday medical and personal needs of the patient. The ‘hospital-at-home model’ helps medical professionals build more intimate relationships with their patients to better assess and manage their health between in-person visits.
This means being able to track a person’s vitals and note daily changes. For example, the RPM Kencor Health offers can alert a healthcare professional to a patient with congestive heart failure who gains weight because of a new medication³, or a patient with diabetes whose blood glucose levels change.⁴ With access to daily data from a patient, healthcare professionals can do more than just manage a patient’s health in a moment of crisis. RPM enables them to pre-emptively intervene before the problem becomes a crisis, to work with that patient with diabetes or congestive heart failure so they can better understand and manage their disease and treatment regimen.
These types of “feedback loops”, where both patient and healthcare team are given a chance to identify a problem and then collaborate on a solution, create both a better, more trusting relationship going forward and encourage patients to actively engage with their health.⁵ Patient engagement can mean both a patient who is more willing and better able to meaningfully contribute to their healthcare plans.
A patient’s needs in the healthcare process are not just a matter of medical care. Patients, particularly those with chronic illnesses or illnesses that consume a large part of their life, are concerned with how accessing healthcare affects the rest of their lives. According to a survey conducted in May 2021, patients do care about things like the convenience RPM provides, its efficiency, the control it enables individuals to have over their own health, as well as peace of mind.⁶
A More Caring Way of Doing Medicine
The hospital-at-home model also offers us a more considerate way of addressing the humans at the center of healthcare. It means moving away from the demoralizing strategy of hallway medicine, where some patients are viewed as ‘bed-blockers’, by relieving the stress put on hospitals and health care workers and instead facilitating more humanistic care at home.⁷ Beyond just relieving the stress on healthcare workers, the hospital-at-home model also critically improves the patient’s quality of life by reducing the time, labour, and stress that frequent and costly visits to the hospital entail. One study found that RPM can reduce the cost of healthcare for a patient by 7000$ and readmission by nine percent.⁸
What’s more, RPM improves a patient’s quality of care, enabling them to receive treatment in a space where they’re more comfortable and feel safe and where they have access to family support. A study looking at hospital-at-home care for patients suffering from acute illnesses even found that home care can help increase a patient’s physical activity and improve sleep.⁹ A patient’s health is always so much more than their treatments and vitals. The hospital-at-home model facilitates not just a patient’s medical care, but their daily well being.
Healthcare exists beyond the hospital. For so many patients and their families, healthcare is part of their daily routines. By providing patients with the resources to access their healthcare in the everyday, the hospital-at-home model that Kencor Health enables offers a more humanistic form of care: care that doesn’t just sustain life but improves the quality of life lived.