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Ensuring Equitable ‘Hospital-at-Home’ Care: Recommended Steps

New health delivery models, such as ‘hospital-at-home,’ are increasingly gaining popularity due to unceasing healthcare worker deficits, shifting costs of care, and continuing hospital closures. ‘Hospital-at-home’ permits patients requiring acute hospital treatment to receive care within the familiarity of their residences. A wealth of studies indicate substantial benefits of this model, including cost savings, enhanced health outcomes, and improved patient experience. In addition, this care approach reportedly enhances the emotional well-being of patients who appreciate the presence of loved ones and pets during recovery.

However, implementing ‘hospital-at-home’ practices also entails a set of challenges that need due consideration. Healthcare systems instituting this model typically employ eligibility criteria determining patient suitability for home care. These assessments include the competence of primary caregivers—usually family members—in delivering patient care, and the safety and appropriateness of home environments for care delivery. This stratification, however, restricts ‘hospital-at-home’ to certain patients only. Moreover, patients with the required resources might still struggle to secure high-quality home care. The primary concern is to ensure equal access to ‘hospital-at-home,’ along with essential elements such as nutritious food, robust energy sources, advanced technology, and infection prevention and control.

To make ‘hospital-at-home’ more inclusive, the following recommendations have been proposed: secure food and medication storage, equal allocation of energy resources, inclusion of necessary technology, and control of environmental hygiene. While these suggestions may pose certain challenges, the potential advantages offered by ‘hospital-at-home’ make it worthwhile, provided these services are delivered in a just and equitable manner. Achieving this would necessitate mitigating resource and education gaps, conducting investigations on cost-effectiveness and outcomes, and evaluating comparative effectiveness between hospital-based and home-based care. Prioritizing such efforts will not only enable patients to receive care at home but also ensure equitable healthcare delivery.

Source: https://www.medpagetoday.com/opinion/second-opinions/108786

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