Family Caregivers Far Prefer Hospital At Home Over Brick-And-Mortar Alternative

The hospital-at-home model can help alleviate caregiver stress, and that could be one of the model’s main selling points moving forward.

The evidence behind that is from a new DispatchHealth case study, which explored caregiver fatigue within the hospital-at-home model by asking, “Does this innovative care model alleviate or exacerbate caregiver stress?”

The results were encouraging, Kevin Riddleberger – the co-founder and chief strategy officer of DispatchHealth – told Home Health Care News.


“When we got our data, it made a lot of sense, because caregivers are very comfortable with their surroundings,” Riddleberger said. “They had great access to their loved one. They were always able to communicate with our clinicians, our teams, the nurses, the NPS and PAs. There is trust built. When there’s trust built, those caregivers have a really good experience because they’re able to hand off that day-to-day routine that they’re used to doing in managing these complex, chronic, disease-ridden patients — and we’re able to take that care over.”

The Denver-based DispatchHealth is an in-home medical care provider that serves over 50 markets across the U.S. It has raised over $700 million in funding to date.

DispatchHealth’s study examined the impact of its Advanced Care service line on family caregivers working with its patients.


“We’ve been admitting patients into the home setting for hospital-level care since 2019,” Riddleberger said. “Collectively, as an industry — and I think about all of the health systems performing hospital-at-home under the CMS waiver — we all need to evaluate some of the care that’s being performed and continue to demonstrate the value.”

For the study, Dispatch developed a comprehensive 22-question survey given by non-clinical surveyors with no direct affiliation to the service line.

The survey reached a total of 73 patients. Of those, 48 identified having a primary caregiver and 44 of those met the eligibility criteria of having provided care for the same patient sometime in the past five years during a hospital admission. All 44 eligible caregivers chose to participate in the survey.

An overwhelming majority (95%) of respondents preferred in-home care over the traditional hospital setting, with 68% saying they had a strong preference for hospital-level care in the home. The other 5% selected hospital-based care as their preference.

An almost identical number of caregivers – 96% – found in-home care less stressful than a previous in-patient hospital experience.

“We are very, very confident in the care that we’re providing, the value that we’re creating – not only for the patients, but the caregivers and whoever’s at risk for managing those patients on the value that we’re creating,” Riddleberger said. “I think the industry continues to need to have these data points to be able to further lean into [the model]..”

Plenty of industry leaders and stakeholders are bullish on the hospital-at-home program — both from a cost-saving perspective and as an outcome-based perspective.

The piece of the puzzle that sometimes flies under the radar is how caregivers are accepting of the program.

“Knowing that the CMS waiver is extended to December 2024, these data points and new studies continue to help support the case for continued growth in the CMS waiver program,” Riddleberger said. “Not only that, but also in the Medicare Advantage and commercial payer communities as well.”

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