The demand for Hospital in the Home has increased, especially as an avenue for treatment of respiratory exacerbations. However, a limiting factor of Hospital in the Home efficiency is excess travel. Telehealth can potentially increase in-home access to specialist care such as physiotherapy. This study examined clinical outcomes achieved with a hybrid telehealth model and assessed safety and efficiency.
This study was an observational benchmarking study of Hospital in the Home physiotherapy episodes of care during respiratory exacerbations between January 2017-June 2019. The participants were young people aged 8-18 years, with cystic fibrosis receiving intravenous antibiotics and bi-daily physiotherapy. The intervention was physiotherapy via either a hybrid model (1× telehealth, 1× face-to-face session) or standard care (2× face-to-face sessions). The outcomes were frequency of return to at least 95% of baseline percentage predicted forced expiratory volume in the first second (ppFEV), ppFEV change, adverse events, travel time and distance saved.
There were 82 episodes of Hospital in the Home; 41 hybrid and 41 standard care. Return to at least 95% of baseline was achieved in 49% of the hybrid group and 32% of standard care. Median ppFEV change was +6% for the hybrid group and +2% standard care. There were no adverse events. Estimated travel time and distance saved was 16,520 min and 12,301.2 km.
Preliminary information supports a hybrid telehealth physiotherapy model as an alternative to standard care for young people with cystic fibrosis during an exacerbation. Safety of telehealth in conjunction with home visits favoured its use to improve efficiency and capacity without added risk.