Issue Brief

The Journal of Emergency Medicine publishes West Health and UCSD study on home health costs as an alternative to hospital care

< 1 min
December 07, 2016
Christopher Crowley, PhD | Amy R. Stuck, RN, PhD | Tracy Martinez, RN | Alan C. Wittgrove, MD | Feng Zeng, PhD | Jesse J. Brennan, MA | Theodore C. Chan, MD | James P. Killeen, MD | Edward M. Castillo, PhD, MPH

The study estimates Medicare cost savings by comparing inpatient hospital admissions and home health options for patients who could have been treated at home following ED visits. Emergency physicians and patient surveys were conducted to gather data on patient preferences, potential candidates for home-based care, and relevant treatments.

The study found that 40% of the patients in the study were identified by emergency physicians as candidates for home-based care, particularly for conditions related to respiratory, digestive, and skin disorders. Treatments suitable for home care included intravenous antibiotics, hydration, and laboratory testing. The average estimated cost savings per patient, comparing the Medicare inpatient reimbursement to the home health counterpart, was approximately $4,144. Furthermore, 79% of the patients surveyed expressed a preference for home-based care.

The article highlights that while home health options offer potential cost savings and benefits for patients, including the comfort and safety of being treated at home, there are logistical challenges to implementing this alternative at scale. The study calls for further research to develop infrastructure, logistical pathways, and incentives to support home health options from the ED and to compare outcomes to traditional inpatient care.


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