Frost & Sullivan discusses how the future of oncology care is set to change with the growth opportunities presented by Hospital at Home (HaH) Care model on World Cancer Day (February 4th)

With one in six deaths due to cancer, it is the second-leading cause of death globally. Approximately 70% of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization. Around three-quarters of cancer patients require hospitalization and one in six need re-hospitalization. Hospital admission can be of two types, planned (e.g. Scheduled chemotherapy) or unplanned (e.g. admission for nausea). Traditionally hospital visit has been the only way for cancer patients to get the treatment they needed. However, there always exists a danger for the patients getting nosocomial infections and incurring high costs at hospitals.

Johns Hopkins – one of the pioneers in the development of the Hospital at Home (HaH) Care Model in the US, defines it as an innovative care model for health care organizations to provide hospital-level care at a patient’s home as a full substitute for acute hospital care. The HaH model can be delivered by the hospital directly or in coordination with other third-party technology and home care service providers. HaH is one of the major innovations in the healthcare ecosystem, with the potential to define the future of healthcare. Implementation and scalability are some of the challenges associated with it, but with support from health providers, government, and insurance players, they can be easily overcome. The model traditionally developed to take care of other acute conditions like congenital heart failure (CHF), COPD, etc., can also be effectively leveraged for cancer care. Countries with well-established HaH care models like Australia and UK offer home care services for oncology patients. India too, has the required building blocks in place, in the form of technology and clinical expertise.

Given the complexity surrounding logistics and the requirement of specialists, hospitals should try to make the most of their existing infrastructure to adapt to the oncology HaH model. Nurses with specialized oncology and home care training can be deployed at the home care site. Advancements in technologies like remote monitoring and telehealth have made real-time monitoring of the patient’s health status feasible and almost replicated in-person visits from oncologists. Digital solutions for care coordination can also be leveraged to improve patient engagement. Companies and hospitals should also focus on developing the right technology solutions and clinical expertise for stratifying/selecting patients based on acuity and risk while considering patient’s interest in more standardized care. Clinical studies have demonstrated successful delivery of chemotherapy regimens at home.

Home infusion is a growing market (also for chemotherapy). In the Indian market, Portea Medical – a consumer health company, launched chemotherapy at home services in April 2020 in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata to help cancer patients and survivors avoid the risk of hospital-acquired infections. Another global home health brand, HealthCare atHOME, which has already been serving the Indian market, saw a steep rise for its oncology at home services during the pandemic. However, in India, the clinicians are still divided on the benefits offered by the Homecare model, which Frost & Sullivan believes will move towards the positive side on account of the adoption of new-age technologies. The trend is expected to continue even post-pandemic and substantial change in hospital-specific oncology care delivery approach can be expected in the Indian market in the next five years.

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