IN-HOME CARE: IMPROVING CARE OUTCOMES IN OPTIMAL SETTINGS
Determining which care setting is most appropriate includes taking into account the overall well-being of patients. Home is a more comfortable, familiar setting, for starters. Also, patients aren’t exposed to dangerous antibiotic-resistant infections that may be found in hospitals. While patients with chronic conditions need regular care, that care can often be delivered at home by nurses and other healthcare professionals who coordinate with the patient’s doctor potentially using m-heath or e-health tools. Regular, reliable home care ensures changes in their condition can be caught early on and their treatment can be quickly adjusted. The result: better-managed conditions and fewer hospitalisations.
Caring for patients in the most optimal setting can also help control costs by freeing up hospital resources for acute patients.
Sustainable healthcare systems will be built on patient-focused care. That means systems will need to find innovative ways to deliver quality treatment to patients. One important step will be to integrate the medical and social services needs of patients coping with chronic conditions.
Nurses will play a pivotal role in the success of this model. Nurses are ideally placed as highly-qualified and informed coordinators of integrated care and patient empowerment, particularly given their ability to earn the confidence of patients. Integrated care models that foster close collaboration between all service providers and stakeholders in healthcare have demonstrated how both patients and systems benefit when care is integrated.
Home-health nurses will be key to helping patients stay out of the hospital. Thanks to m-health tools, nurses can visit patients at home, track their symptoms and vital signs and, if necessary immediately contact the patient’s physician if a problem arises. Acting as the bridge between the doctor and patient, home-care nurses are vital components in sustainable healthcare systems.
Pharmacists’ roles are also shifting, as they move from simply dispensing medication to a more direct patient care role in the community, particularly when it comes disease detection and prevention. In France, pharmacists are creating new programmes to help detect health problems like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, orienting patients to doctors and specialists for follow-up as needed. And in many places, patients can drop by pharmacies to receive immunisations, essential to maintaining public health.
Pharmacists are also crucial parts of the healthcare ecosystem when it comes to educating patients on the importance of adhering to treatment regimens and verifying that patients’ different medications don’t interact. They are uniquely accessible to the general public: patients don’t need an appointment to see a pharmacist and pharmacies have extended hours and are available on weekends. Pharmacists are trusted healthcare professionals for patients, giving them a unique role in supporting community and in-home care.
In order to efficiently shift chronic care from hospitals to home and community care, systems will need to invest in training and developing home health nursing. Investments in community nursing are also justified by the rising challenges and demands of an ageing population with more complex and multiple healthcare and social care needs to be met.
Moving Care to the Community: An International Perspective, Royal College of Nursing, UK, December 2014
Michael D. Hogue, et. al., Pharmacist Involvement with Immunizations: A Decade of Professional Advancement, J AM PHARM ASSOCIATION 2006, 46(2) :168-182.
Spotlight on Prevention: When, Who and How?
Unhealthy lifestyles and lack of physical activity are key factors in the development of chronic diseases. Early prevention and diagnosis, better education, and above all collaboration among governments, patient organizations, and industry are crucial to prevent chronic diseases from arising.