What it will take to move cancer care to the home

Somerville, Mass.-based Mass General Brigham, Salt Lake City-based University of Utah Health and Oklahoma City-based OU Health are among the health systems treating cancer patients in the home, but leaders there said cultural and infrastructure changes are needed for the care model to reach its full potential, Home Health Care News reported.

"Our whole cancer care system is based on bringing people to the cancer specialist rather than providing care at home and going to the specialists on limited occasions," said Kathi Mooney, PhD, RN, co-leader of cancer control and population sciences at University of Utah Health's Huntsman Cancer Institute, which has a hospital-at-home program, in the July 13 story. "[Including] the home as a key cancer site requires restructuring mindsets, investing in new infrastructure, adopting and supporting technology and finding new reimbursement models."

While hospital-at-home has grown in popularity for acute care in recent years, it remains rarer for specialties such as oncology. But since cancer is mostly treated on an outpatient basis, it makes sense that accompanying symptoms such as dehydration, infection, pain and bowel obstruction that often arise in the home be treated there, Dr. Mooney said in the article.

OU Health has recently been studying the Supportive Oncology Care at Home model developed at Mass General Cancer Center in Boston, according to the story. Algorithms monitor patients' symptoms and vital signs and alert clinicians when to call them to check in.

Patients in both programs have experienced lower rates of hospitalizations and emergency department visits, the news outlet reported.

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