The ‘hospital at home’ model of care has gradually become the focus of discussions across the UK and the NHS. Set to deliver quality care to patients even outside the hospital, in the convenience of their own homes, the popularity of this approach is growing, with integrated care systems (ICS) set to establish a healthcare infrastructure that can accommodate and support a specific number of virtual beds for patients in need of remote medical care by the end of 2023.
The model can offer several benefits, including improved access to medical services, reduced strain on physical hospital resources, and enhanced patient convenience and satisfaction. Moreover, it minimises the disruption to the patient’s daily life. But while it is proving to be effective in managing various medical conditions, promoting better recovery rates, and improving overall patient satisfaction, there are certain concerns that we need to be aware of.
We discussed the topic at our Better Meds event in February, and emphasised several points that need to be addressed carefully:
• interoperability: integrations between ePMA, EPS, PAS, and EPR systems are crucial, as the virtual ward teams need access to up-to-date medication and patient data,
• connectivity: sufficient signal strength is required for home monitoring equipment and there has to be access to patient records – this can also be solved with an offline mode for ePMAs,
• responsibility: complexities remain as to where responsibility lies with medication management, which is why the right processes and governance have to be established to ensure patient safety is maintained,
• staffing: staff resources represent significant barriers – hospital at home has to be adequately staffed as well and caregivers have to be supported with training and resources,
• patient eligibility: clear criteria for admitting patients to a virtual ward needs to be established, and this model of care cannot be applied to all patient cohorts and home environment conditions.
The hospital-at-home approach may not be suitable for all patients or medical conditions, for example, end-of-life patients. Furthermore, access to facilities, equipment and interventions may not be available in all home settings. It is therefore essential to assess each patient’s medical needs to establish whether this option is an appropriate one.
Despite these concerns, this model holds immense potential to transform healthcare delivery, increase patient satisfaction, and optimise resource utilisation. Addressing these challenges and incorporating best practices will be essential for unlocking the full benefits of this innovative approach to healthcare and making use of the opportunity to increase patient eligibility and improve safety.
By leveraging modern technologies and patient-centred care models, it represents a promising solution to address current healthcare challenges and deliver more efficient and effective medical services.
This topic was discussed at our Better Meds event in February in London. You can read more about it in our report:
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