For a long time, people wondered whether a home-care home is the place to be for those with chronic health conditions like cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.
But the latest research suggests home-health services are now becoming an affordable option for those who have a lot of money.
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month, researchers analyzed data from more than 7 million patients who have been hospitalized and treated in private homes since 2010.
They found that home-meds and other medical devices accounted for a third of all home-hospital admissions.
They also found that the home-counselor was responsible for roughly 30 percent of the overall hospital costs.
And while home-home visits may seem like a relatively small cost, the research also showed that the cost of home-doctor visits has increased more than 20 percent over the last decade.
“Our findings suggest that home care has become an affordable and effective option for many Americans who are in need of medical care, and that home health care is an increasingly popular option for patients with chronic conditions,” said lead author Dr. Michael F. Katz, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Center for Home Care and Health in Boston.
“This research demonstrates that home caregivers are contributing to the care of a growing number of Americans in need.”
Katz and his colleagues examined data from the National Health Interview Survey, which collects information about health and other data about patients.
This survey is used to determine whether an individual is enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid.
Researchers looked at the number of people who visited a home for home-based medical care.
They looked at both hospitalization and emergency room visits.
Home-care visits were not included in the study because it was not clear whether home-related care is counted as outpatient care.
Katz said the findings should be used as a guide for hospitals and other providers to figure out whether home care is a good option for their patients.
Home care costs in the United States have risen dramatically since the recession of 2008-2009.
The National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey shows that, in fiscal years 2011 and 2012, the average cost of a home visit increased by about $1,600.
In fiscal year 2013, the cost for an emergency room visit increased about $3,600, while the average home-visit cost increased by $1.35 per visit.
Katz and coauthors suggest that the trend toward home-billing for patients is an indication of a trend toward overbilling.
“It’s not clear that the increased use of home care in the U.S. is the result of an increase in hospital admissions or the resulting increased demand for care, but it is the case that home healthcare is now a more common option for a large portion of the population,” Katz said.
Home visits are one of the main ways that doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals interact with patients.
They can also help patients stay in the hospital longer.
The survey showed that nearly half of all doctors and nurses in the country visited a patient in a home setting in 2012.
Home visits were responsible for almost three-quarters of emergency room admissions.
Home doctors are increasingly seeking out a specialty that is less expensive than their non-home counterparts, Katz said, and they are also trying to find ways to cut costs.
Home care can also be a time-saving way to help patients with severe chronic health issues, such as cancer or heart disease, Katz added.
Home health care providers are increasingly finding ways to increase their pay by using home visits to get more people into the hospital, Katz explained.
In some cases, home care can be an efficient way to save money.
Home-care providers can charge more for treatment if patients are sick or if they have serious medical conditions, Katz noted.
The new study focused on people with chronic diseases, such to hypertension, diabetes, high blood sugar and cancer, and those with conditions that are more complicated like arthritis, arthritis and osteoporosis.
Katz did not have data on other chronic conditions, but said the study is consistent with other research showing that home visits can help patients in need.
“Home-based care can make patients more comfortable, healthier and less likely to be hospitalized, so it’s very likely to reduce hospital admissions,” Katz explained, adding that it’s not unusual for home care providers to charge more when patients are in the ER.
“This is especially true when they’re taking care of people with a very severe illness or when they have chronic conditions that require home-site visits.
It’s just a very common, inexpensive and efficient way for patients to stay in their homes.”
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