Patients with low-risk bloods clots may benefit from receiving treatment at home, meaning home health care agencies may see opportunities to begin treating the condition within the next few years.
The home health industry’s prospective role in treating blood clots was highlighted in a study published earlier this month in the journal CHEST.
As part of the study, researchers at the Intermountain Healthcare tracked 200 patients between 2013 and 2016 who were treated for acute pulmonary embolisms or serious lung blood clots in five of the health system’s emergency departments, including Intermountain’s Level I trauma center, Intermountain Medical Center.
Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit integrated health system with 22 hospitals, home care services, hospice and palliative care and its own health insurance plan, among other services.
Home care push
Intermountain Healthcare has shown an increased interest in personal care services as of late. The organization recently partnered with home care services provider Lifesprk to launch a joint venture, Homespire.
Edina, Minnesota-based Lifesprk is a home care and senior living service provider in the Twin Cities area. The organization has worked with more than 14,000 patients over a 14 year span. Its team currently stands at about 450 total employees, more than half of whom are home health aides.
The partnership’s main goal is to bring the Lifesprk model to Utah. Intermountain Healthcare hopes the venture will cut health care costs, re-hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
Treating blood clots at home
Patients who participated in the study were chosen after a series of tests, including echocardiograms and ultrasounds, revealed they were at low risk of developing serious complications from the blood clots. Instead of admitting them to the hospital for treatment, patients were given an outpatient strategy to follow.
The strategy directed patients to take an oral anticoagulant or blood thinner, along with in-home blood thinner injections in some cases. Researchers monitored the patients for 90 days. The researchers found only one patient needed hospitalization, a case that was the result of an accident.
In general, patients were much more satisfied with the at-home care, the study found.
At-home care has become the standard in some European countries, and it may lead to better outcomes for some patients in the United States, Dr. Joseph Bledsoe, research director in emergency medicine at Intermountain Medical Center, said in a press release promoting the study.
“Our findings show that if you appropriately risk stratify patients, there are a lot of people with blood clots who are safe to go home,” Bledsoe said. “When patients are sent home versus staying in the hospital, they’re at lower risk of getting another infection. It’s a lot less expensive too.”
In the United States, lung blood clots are fatal to as many as 200,000 people per year, according to the American Thoracic Society. The current standard of care is hospitalization for all patients, according to Intermountain Health.
To push a possible home-based solution forward, Bledsoe recommends researchers conduct similar studies outside of the Intermountain Healthcare system with a larger group of patients to confirm the results.
Written by Kaitlyn Mattson