This article is based on our recent Device Talks webinar in which Bill Betten, Director of Solutions – Medtech at S3 Connected Health, and Aghogho Ekpruke Director of Innovation at Becton Dickinson, discussed the hospital-at-home trend – what’s driving it, and what this means for medtech companies.
There is an increasing acknowledgment that it is not possible (or necessary) to treat all patients in traditional healthcare settings. Focus is shifting to the treatment of patients at home.
Hospital-at-home goes beyond traditional ‘home care’, where a HCP visits the home to provide care for a patient. Rather, it is enabling and providing hospital care in a home setting, using a tight integration between technology and clinical practices. Moving certain treatments from hospital settings to the home frees up more resources for the improvement of the most acute care in clinical settings.
The Hospital at Home Movement has Started…
There are several factors driving the hospital-at-home movement. The spiraling costs of hospital care are recognized as unsustainable, while limited healthcare resources restrict the number of people that can be treated in hospitals. Alongside this, is the continuous rise of chronic conditions, which now affect over 52% of the US population. Not only it is not possible to continue to treat all these patients in a hospital setting, but there is a growing understanding that patients can experience an improved quality of life by receiving treatment at home.
These factors all come together in tandem with the emergence of technologies that enable this transition.
Many associate the hospital-at-home trend with Covid-19, but well before the pandemic hit, the U.K. health service was planning to free up 2,000 to 3,000 acute beds – the equivalent of opening five new hospitals – by changing where care is provided. The pandemic accelerated the trend globally by driving the adoption of technologies that enabled people to receive care without visiting healthcare facilities in person. After experiencing remote care, even at the most basic level, many people want to continue home treatment.
What does this mean for medtech companies?
While healthcare is in the early stages of this transition, the future is clear and vendors that act today will be best placed to thrive in the emerging environment. Without features that enable home and everyday use, some devices could become obsolete prematurely.
Device manufactures should consider the following:
- Can existing devices be repurposed for use in a home setting?
- Would some minor design tweaks facilitate the use of these devices in the home?
- Is it necessary to design and build from scratch a new solution that can be used in the home by non-clinical staff?
Additionally, devices must have the necessary medical clearance needed to bring it outside a clinical setting. Regulatory issues around intended use and instructions for use must also be addressed.
The technology challenge is no longer a significant hurdle. The underlying infrastructure to support the hospital-at-home move is also required for modern smart in-hospital devices and the type of connected wearables that have become an essential aspect of medical care in the last decade.
Medtech companies should embrace hospital-at-home as an opportunity to give patients the convenient and personal experiences they already get in other industries, and to branch into a new market while improving offerings that remain in the hospital setting.
Which therapy areas are leading the hospital-at-home movement?
Given the right solutions, and with the right technology and clinical practices coming together, the list of therapy areas that can move to treatment at home is extensive. Existing therapies and interventions are already moving from hospital to the home and everyday environments, while new solutions are being built with treatment at home in mind.
Dialysis, infusion and transfusion-based therapies, and diagnostic procedures such as EEG monitoring are at the vanguard of this trend, which requires existing devices to be repositioned and redesigned for use at home. While some infusion-based therapies, such as chemotherapy, may require a lot of prep to be done at home, and complex drug regimes to be provided, the infusion to be prepared, and a HCP to administer it, the evidence shows this can be done safely at home, with the same quality of care received in a hospital, and at a much lower cost.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made people more comfortable conducting tests themselves at home. This presents an opportunity in the field of diagnostics. With the integration of the outcomes of those diagnostic tests, and the development new treatment solutions that can be used at home, the condition can be managed with patients never having to go to a hospital.
Challenges facing hospital-at-home
As connected medical devices continue to evolve and adapt, the challenges facing hospital-at-home are rarely technological. The medtech industry has successfully leveraged consumer-orientated technology to improve their devices and the data collected from them, which has enabled treatment moving out of healthcare settings.
The challenges lie in all relevant stakeholders including payors and insurers, providers, reimbursement and regulatory bodies, medical device companies, and patients themselves, playing their part.
Patient adherence is a big issue for hospital-at-home. In a traditional healthcare setting, a HCP oversees the patient is completing their treatment as prescribed, but that supervision does not exist at home. There is also a perception of safety in a hospital that doesn’t always translate to the home. While the care and appropriate supervision provided in the home might be the same, a false perception can exist for the patients that they are safer in a hospital setting, with clinicians nearby.
To learn more about hospital-at-home, watch our webinar with Bill Betten, Director of Solutions – Medtech at S3 Connected Health, Aghogho Ekpruke Director of Innovation at Becton Dickinson, and Tom Salemi of DeviceTalks who share their experience and best practices for meeting this rising demand.