National Study Evaluates Acute Hospital Care at Home (AHCaH)

Findings suggest AHCaH benefits diverse patient groups with complex conditions

While hospitalization is the standard of care for acute illness, it can be expensive, unsafe, and uncomfortable for patients. As an alternative, Acute Hospital Care at Home (AHCaH), provides hospital-level care in patients’ homes as a substitute for in-hospital care.

In 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a waiver program, paving the way for over 300 hospitals in 37 states to offer AHCaH. However, data on the national impact of AHCaH remains limited.

A recent study coauthored by Professor of Health Care Policy, Bruce Landon MD, MBA, MSc examines the national experience of this program. Analyzing data from Medicare claims between July 2022 and June 2023, they identified AHCaH patients and assessed their outcomes.

The study’s findings show that among the 5132 patients who received AHCaH, they were primarily aged 80+, White, and with complex medical conditions like hear failure, COPD, cancer, and dementia. Clinical outcomes included a low mortality rate during hospitalization, and post-discharge, with low rates of escalation, skilled-nursing facility use, and readmission. These results remained consistent across different patient groups, including those with disabilities, dual Medicaid eligibility, and Black or Latinx ethnicity, regardless of the primary diagnosis (including COVID-19).

Such findings suggest that AHCaH is an important care model in managing patients with acute illness, including those who are socially vulnerable and have medically complex cases. With the current AHCaH waiver set to expire in December 2024, the data collected in this study should help to inform ongoing policy discussions regarding the continuation of the program.