Dr Boh Toon Li, Clinical lead for the Medical Home Programme, Population Health and Community Transformation at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, explains why the home hospitalisation model has a key role to play in the future of healthcare in Asia.
The home hospitalisation care model might still be relatively new in Asia, but it could gain prominence in the region in time to come, claims Dr Boh Toon Li, Clinical lead for the Medical Home Programme, Population Health and Community Transformation at Singapore’s Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH).
After all, there are several key benefits to the care model that makes it practical and viable to implement, especially during the current pandemic.
Dr Boh, who is leading the pilot trial of the home hospitalisation care model for Yishun Health – in collaboration with Singapore’s MOH Office for Healthcare Transformation – elaborated: “The pandemic has created a need for sufficient bed capacity to deal with any surges of COVID-19 patients, especially for those who have more severe disease that require closer monitoring, or some form of respiratory support.
“Therefore, home hospitalisation helps to reduce the number of inpatients at hospitals, as those who do not have the virus, and are not in need of critical care, can now be treated at home.
“For frail and homebound patients, especially those who are not vaccinated yet, they will benefit more from being treated at home. And in this COVID-19 climate, there are likely to be more caregivers who are working remotely; this allows them to help monitor and give treatment for patients at home.”
But, will the home hospitalisation care model continue to be relevant in a future where COVID-19 finally becomes endemic?
Dr Boh is confident that it will, as she said: “We will likely see a rise in the number of patients who prefer to be treated in the comfort of their own homes.
“This group of patients tends to recover better at home, rather than in an hospital, where they are more prone to getting hospitalisation-related complications, like infection, acute confusion, and functional decline.
“This is why even before COVID-19, there has been an increasing shift from hospital care to more community-based care, which is especially relevant in Singapore where there are space constraints that limits the capacity to build more acute hospitals.”
While the home hospitalisation care model is well-suited to the Singapore landscape, Dr Boh believes it can be easily adapted to meet the healthcare demands of other countries in the region.
“Every country has their own set of challenges, and the actual running of the home hospitalisation service will have differences,” Dr Boh said.
“So, for countries that are geographically not so condensed, like how it is in Singapore, then they may have to rely more on virtual monitoring as an important source of care in this kind of care model. But certainly, this is definitely a care model that is up-and-coming in Asia as well.”
For now, though, Dr Boh is aiming to garner more awareness and support for the home hospitalisation care model.
She said: “Moving forward, I hope there will be increased awareness of this care model, and with it, there will be increased receptiveness and uptake of this service.
“It is important for us to garner increased support from the various healthcare stakeholders, because cost is currently still one of the major barriers for patients seeking out this kind of service.
“With increased support, especially financially, it will certainly remove these barriers, and hopefully this will become part of the standard care options that are made accessible to patients nationwide, regardless of their location or economic status.”
To learn more about Yishun Health’s medical home programme experience, join Dr Boh at the HMA 2021 conference this September. Click here to register for the conference today!