Home Health Care Improves Patient Outcomes

When you hear people in the health care industry talking about the advantages of home health care, one of the biggest pros mentioned is the relatively lower cost of treating a patient in their home rather than in a hospital. Sometimes you'll hear from patients about why they prefer staying in their home when receiving treatment too. But one factor that you might not be aware of is that home health care leads to better health outcomes for patients.

The statistics about patient outcomes for home health care

One of the earliest studies into home health care found that patients who were recovering from hip replacement surgery reported a significantly greater improvement in their quality of life after three months when receiving home health care as opposed to recovering in a hospital.1 Since then, home health care has developed with more training for caregivers and greater availability of telemedicine technologies.

A more recent study into rehabilitation following strokes found that patients could cut their stay in hospital in half, from 30 days to 15 days, when there was home health care available – and that this shorted hospital stay resulted in outcomes that were equally as good as a longer hospital stay.2 Another study found that home health care was particularly effective at positively influencing functional and cognitive outcomes among older patients3, who are an important and growing demographic.

The case for supporting quality of life

Recent research underscores the importance of not only treating a patient's symptoms, but also of supporting their quality of life in terms of pain management, maintaining a feeling of dignity and agency in their care, and receiving community support. The “health-related quality of life” model suggests that physical and psychological or social factors are related in health care, meaning that ensuring that a patient feels supported and comfortable will lead to them being healthier overall, recovering faster, and potentially needing less treatment in the future.4

The importance of self-care

You might assume that a patient would have the best outcomes when they are surrounded by a group of health care providers like doctors, nurses, and physical therapists who can support their treatment in a hospital environment. But this overlooks one of the key aspects of recovery for any patient: self-care. When in a hospital, patients are often put into a passive position where they rely on others for food, bathing, and so on. Whereas when a patient receives treatment at home, they are more likely to take an active part in their recovery and to take control of their self-care. This can include things like eating, dressing, and bathing.5 Studies have found that Medicare patients who receive home health care are more likely to improve their self-care, leading to better outcomes in terms of breathing, bathing, wound healing, moving around more, and reduced pain.5

Home health care isn't just a cost saving measure: it makes patients more comfortable and happy, which means that they recover faster, have fewer complications, and feel better about themselves and their treatment.6

References

1 https://www.bmj.com/content/316/7147/1786.short

2 http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/31/5/1024.short

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4749163/

4 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/385444

5 http://ahhqi.org/images/uploads/20130906_Home_Health_Chartbook_FINAL.pdf

6 http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/newsletters/quality-matters/2011/august-september-2011/in-focus

6 http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/newsletters/quality-matters/2011/august-september-2011/in-focus

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