Digital technologies help bring hospital care home

Senior Man In Dressing Gown Using Walking Frame Being Helped By Female Nurse With Digital Tablet
Sheila Zabeu -

May 03, 2023

At a conference held at the end of April by Fortune Magazine, whose theme was “Venturing into the Unknown”, one of the main themes was the trend of bringing hospital care into patients’ homes. And technologies play a relevant role in this change.

This is a movement that has gained strength in the United States, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic and involves not only hospital care, but a broader concept of home care. The aim is to improve health treatments, providing patients with a cozier atmosphere, close to their families, without giving up diagnostic and monitoring technical resources, often only available in hospitals or outpatient clinics.

Many devices used in hospitals are not as complex or difficult to use and can have replicas at home relying on new technology. “We can connect many devices through Wi-Fi to remote monitoring platforms. We can manage and monitor these devices and set alerts that warn when there is something different,” exemplified Jean Olive, director of technology at Best Buy Health during the event.

When it comes to monitoring basic health conditions, wearable devices that track heart rate, sleep patterns and oxygenation, for example, have already gained a popular following and are helping to bring technologies closer to health issues. In the more professional field, there are already thousands of options in various categories, which are even listed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, describing the application for monitoring many symptoms and conditions, such as diabetes, blood pressure, sleep apnea, asthma, among others.

“People want to stay at home, so there are a lot of opportunities. We just have to change the culture to broaden the adoption of technology and try to change some payment models for these technological devices,” comments Jean Olive.

The Mayo Clinic, a major US hospital, was one of the first in the United States to experiment with sending acute patients home for remote care four years ago. Today, there are about 250 similar programmes across the country. The hospital-at-home movement was boosted mainly because, during the pandemic, the US federal agency that administers the Medicare and Medicaid programmes relaxed some rules, allowing the expansion of home hospital care programmes. These pandemic-era waivers will remain in place until at least the end of 2024, but the expectation is that policy changes will allow them to become permanent.

Obviously, rule changes would be worthless without technology to enable home care, which can be healthier, more comfortable and more cost-effective than in a hospital.

Recent data from PA Consulting shows that 67% of respondents in the United States believe that the spread of home hospital solutions will help save time and money for patients. They also have the potential to relieve pressure on healthcare systems and consequently increase access to them. The Healthier at Home report predicts that by 2030, the global market for home healthcare solutions will reach $390.4 billion.

Source: PA Consulting

Seven in 10 (74%) of US healthcare leaders said their organizations are prioritizing solutions to migrate care from the hospital to the home, including diagnostic, monitoring, and medication delivery tools.

On the side of global pharmaceutical and medical technology leaders, 76% are prioritizing products and services to change the place of care. As a result, they expect to see 25% more products on the market in 2027 than they do today. More than half (54%) of pharma leaders anticipate that in five years the focus of their solutions will be products and services that complement innovative pharmacotherapy.

In addition, six in 10 (68%) of respondents predict that medical technology and pharmaceutical companies will become trusted partners in providing connected solutions, with the greatest diagnostic opportunities in the fields of oncology (57%) and cardiology (46%).

Connected home solutions will also grow. Three quarters (75%) of US respondents said they are working on connected home solutions and predict that the Internet of Things (IoT) will increasingly be used in the home to provide doctors with real-time data and support preventive health, early intervention and monitoring of health conditions.

While they are willing to support this transition, medical technology and pharmaceutical leaders are having difficulty implementing scalable solutions due to the complexity of the healthcare system and stakeholders. For 70% of respondents, these companies do not understand the healthcare systems and payers to be able to deliver with in-home hospital solutions. For patients, in-home hospital care can increase the availability of real data to generate better health outcomes (62%) and better serve the aging population (49%).

The survey also pointed out that there is a huge educational problem among doctors in the United States. Only 41% will be motivated to make the transition from traditional hospital care to home settings in 5 years. Six in 10 (66%) feel there is a risk of diseases going unidentified due to less contact with doctors.