Around 6,000 Israelis die yearly of infectious disease. Home hospitals help
Israel entered the coronavirus crisis with the highest number of people dying from infectious disease per capita in the developed world – some 73% more than the No. 2 country, Greece, according to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report at the time.
It also had the highest hospital occupancy rate of any country in the OECD.
“There are not enough beds in Israeli hospitals,” said Inbal Amit, director of nursing at Samson Assuta Ashdod University Medical Center. “Hospitals are also swarming with germs, increasing the likelihood of sick people developing a bacterial infection.”
Around 6,000 people die of infectious disease in Israeli hospitals, Amit said.
Over the past decade, Israel has started to put a focus on home hospitalization in an effort to shift the numbers of people sleeping in hospital corridors and dying of preventable infectious disease. For the last five years, Assuta Ashdod has been at the forefront of this program.
Working closely with the health funds, staff identifies the patients that could benefit from home hospitalization and, if all consent, runs a program that ensures top-quality care in a more comfortable environment. It also allows patients to be with the people they love while they are healing, to sleep in their own beds and eat the foods that make them happiest.
The kinds of patients that qualify for home health care can range, she said, including for those patients who have Alzheimer’s, cancer or require certain medications, Amit said. It can also work for people who have certain respiratory conditions or even urinary infections.
At Assuta Ashdod, doctors and nurses work together to identify patients that would qualify to be hospitalized at home. They then discuss it with the patient and their family to ensure that they can manage the care required. Assuta Ashdod sends a nurse to visit the patient every day. The doctor also makes regular visits either in person or via a sophisticated telemedicine program.
Technology enables patients to be monitored in real time and for their vitals to be checked.
The program saves money, too, since on average people are hospitalized in Israel for at least five days.
"Even though we are a hospital and, of course, we want sick people to come to us, we believe in what is best for the patients."
A home hospitalization program in Canada, INSPIRED, provides a holistic hospital-to-home form of care. The program has led to a 64% reduction in hospital readmissions and a 52% decrease in emergency department visits, according to a peer-reviewed report on the subject of home hospitalization that was published in 2019 in the Israel Medical Association Journal. It also showed that the program could save as much as $688 million in acute care costs annually if it served around 5,800 patients each year.
“Every dollar invested in INSPIRED could save $21 in hospital-based costs,” the report showed, explaining the need to increase similar programs in Israel.
Amit said Assuta Ashdod manages around 50 home hospitalization patients per month that would otherwise be in the facility.
“Even though we are a hospital and, of course, we want sick people to come to us, we believe in what is best for patients,” Amit said. “We also know we can give better service to the people who cannot be at home and need us with this program.”