Hospital-at-Home Models Are 38% Cheaper Than Traditional Hospital Stays

Hospital-at-home patients are less often readmitted within a 30-day period after discharge than people who were treated in a traditional hospital, a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found.

As part of the study — led by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Partners HealthCare System — researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial that included 43 hospital-at-home patients and 48 patients receiving traditional hospital care between June 2017 and January 2018.

Overall, researchers found that only 7% of hospital-at-home patients were readmitted within 30-days. On the other hand, 23% of patients receiving traditional hospital care were readmitted within 30-days.

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Aside from lower rates of readmission, hospital-at-home patients were also less sedentary and spent less of the day lying down.

“Perhaps patients who receive acute care at home are less likely to develop ‘posthospital

syndrome’ because they sleep better; eat better; walk more; and become less deconditioned, malnourished, and sedated,” the researcher wrote in the study. “Discharge planning may also be more effective at home because it occurs where patients and caregivers will be carrying out postdischarge tasks and can be tailored to the home environment.”

Furthermore, researchers also found that, compared to traditional patients, hospital-at-home patients had fewer laboratory orders, imaging studies and consultations.

Additionally, hospital at home was 38% less costly than traditional hospital care.

Researchers noted that the patients who took part in the study had a variety of conditions and that the study only examines a small sample size.

In-home care has long been recognized for its ability to curb costs and lower hospital readmission rates. With that in mind, many health systems and organizations launched hospital-at-home programs in 2019.

Despite how underutilized hospital-at-home programs are in the U.S., mainly due to tricky reimbursement barriers, studies have consistently touted the benefits of the model.

For instance, other studies have found that hospital-at-home care achieves shorter average lengths of stay compared to traditional in-patient care, at 3.2 days compared to 5.5 days. Hospital-at-home models have also been found to have lower rates of emergency department visits, according to researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

“[Studies have shown that] at six months after treatment, 50 people treated in hospital at home, one more [patient] is alive than they would have been if they had all been treated in the hospital,” Dr. Bruce Leff, a professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said while speaking at the 2019 Home Health Care News Summit in October. “You think about the drugs that now command six-figure prices, [some] don’t come anywhere close to that.”

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