Background: Home hospital is advocated in many western countries in spite of limited evidence of its economic advantage over usual hospital care. Heart failure and community-acquired pneumonia are two medical conditions which are frequently targeted by home hospital programs. While recent trials were devoted to comparisons of safety and costs, the acceptance of home hospital for patients with these conditions remains poorly described.
Objective: To document the medical eligibility and final transfer decision to home hospital for patients hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of heart failure or community-acquired pneumonia.
Design: Longitudinal study of patients admitted to the medical ward of acute care hospitals, up to the final decision concerning their transfer.
Setting: Medical departments of one university hospital and two regional teaching Swiss hospitals.
Patients: All patients admitted over a 9 month period to the three settings with a primary diagnosis of heart failure (n= 301) or pneumonia (n=441).
Measurements: Presence of permanent exclusion criteria on admission; final decision of (in)eligibility based on medical criteria; final decision regarding the transfer, taking into account the opinions of the family physician, the patient and informal caregivers.
Results: While 27.9% of heart failure and 37.6% of pneumonia patients were considered to be eligible from a medical point of view, the program acceptance by family physicians, patients and informal caregivers was low and a transfer to home hospital was ultimately chosen for just 3.8% of heart failure and 9.6% of pneumonia patients. There were no major differences between the three settings.
Conclusions: In the case of these two conditions, the potential economic advantage of home hospital over usual inpatient care is compromised by the low proportion of patients ultimately transferred.