Vivalink survey: 84% prefer hospital-at-home to extended hospital stay

June 17, 2024 4:56 am

A survey of 1,025 consumers conducted by remote patient monitoring company Vivalink Inc. found that 84% of respondents would be willing to participate in hospital-at-home monitoring if it allowed them to leave the hospital earlier. Further, of those who had participated in a hospital-at-home program, 84% reported a positive experience.

Consumer openness to remote monitoring could suggest a way to control rapidly rising health care costs. Hospital spending in the U.S. rose 10% in 2023, to $4.8 trillion, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently reported, increasing interest in less expensive options such as remote monitoring of patients and hospital-at-home (HaH) programs.

One challenge to expansion of HaH initiatives is the pending expiration in December of the Acute Hospital Care at Home program implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic and extended under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023. Hospitals granted an AHCAH waiver can provide inpatient-level care for Medicare beneficiaries.

Hospitals have flocked to create “virtual wards” that use remote monitoring systems to stay abreast of emerging issues in patients receiving care or recovering at home. As of April 2024, more than 320 hospitals in 133 health systems in 37 states had established hospital-at-home arrangements, and others are keen to follow suit but many have put plans on hold because of uncertainty about extension of the waiver.

“In the long run, HaH programs should achieve economies of scale through the use of lower-cost remote patient monitoring (RPM) technologies versus traditional, more expensive hospital bedside equipment,” Sam Liu, vice president of marketing at Vivalink, told BioWorld.

“A more permanent of long-term approval of the CMS waivers is key for ensuring access to these services,” Liu added. “Another primary factor is to provide patient- and clinican-ready technology solutions designed to reduce the hurdles to adoption and increase ease of use. Vivalink is directly involved in this aspect with our Acute RPM solution.”

Survey shows openness to hospital-at-home

“Consumers are increasingly driving the trend towards receiving care in the comfort of their own homes. This shift, accelerated by the COVID pandemic, underscores the importance of providing flexible and convenient health care solutions that meet patients’ evolving needs,” said Jiang Li, CEO of Vivalink. “At Vivalink, we are committed to the development of advanced digital healthcare solutions in order to improve access and efficiency of the health care system for all.”

The survey found that more than three-quarters of respondents would trust their health care provider’s recommendations whether to stay in the hospital or use remote monitoring systems at home.

Of those who had participated in home-based programs, slighly fewer half said the remote patient monitoring devices were easy to use. Notably, the 16% who were not keen to leave the hospital said that difficulty using the devices was a primary concern.

Age was a key factor in concerns with technology and lack of awareness of home monitoring options. Respondents over the age of 70 were less likely to be familiar with HaH programs, with 42% of this age group saying they had heard of or participated in a hospital-at-home program compared to 77% of those in their 40s.

Rural respondents were also less aware of HaH programs, with just 25% saying they had heard of them vs. 71% of urban residents. Rural respondents, however, were almost twice as interested in completely remote primary care (36%) than their urban counterparts (19%), perhaps because the shuttering of many rural hospitals and a shortage of physicians has increased the distance these patients must travel to receive care.

In addition, respondents who used hospitals the most were the most receptive to HaH programs. Of those who had had three or more hospitalizations in the last year, 95% were willing to participate in home-based programs compared to 62% of those who had two or fewer hospitalizations. The frequently hospitalized group was also more likely to trust in their physicians’ recommendations as to site of care (95%) compared to 78% for those hospitalized twice or less often.

Cardiac issues were the most likely to be monitored at home (46%), followed by cancer treatment and neurological disorders (38% each). More than 30% of respondents who had participated in HaH programs were being monitored for diabetes, respiratory disorders or infectious diseases.

For patients, hospital-at-home programs offer shorter in-patient stays with consequently lower bills, reduced readmission rates and reduced risk of hospital-acquired infections and overall better clinical outcomes as well as more comfort and eased access to familiar settings and family, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

For hospitals, the models reduce overhead expenses, allow continued care for more patients with lower staff commitment and reduced infrastructure costs, particularly during peak utilization periods. Johns Hopkins Medicine estimated that HaH programs saved 19% to 30% compared to standard in-patient care.