Finalist, CUF Grupo – Hospitals and Clinics, Lisbon (Portugal) for ist Home Hospitalization Unit
CUF created a Home Hospitalization health service as an effective and safe alternative to conventional hospitalization, transferring the treatment of the acute patient who would normally be admitted to a hospital, to their home, allowing them to be closer to their comfort, their family, but with permanent monitoring.
What makes your project so special?
The Home Hospitalization Unit CUF (HHU) is a special project since we are taking care of patients who need hospitalization, but at the comfort of their own homes. We also differentiate ourselves by the multiplicity of pathologies and care provided, as well as the care integration, including all hospital services needed – clinical exams, differentiated specialities. HHU CUF already has a significant geographical coverage in Portugal, being in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area and in the Oporto Metropolitan area. We also are distinctive because we have a caregiver service available that is integrated in our unit, being able to provide from 1 hour to 24 hours. Not only do we treat patients, we care for them.
What does this award mean to you and your teams?
This is a very important distinction for our team, a very important recognition of all our team’s effort in the construction of a very innovative and differentiated service, being the first – and only – HHU in private health in Portugal. Additionally, this award is also important to increase our notoriety, promoting our service indoors and outside our country, showing the world how differentiated we are in the breadth of care provided every day by our doctors and nurses at our patients homes.
CUF is the first private health provider in Portugal which offers Home hospitalization, starting this activity in Lisbon on June 1, 2020. It is already one of the largest in the country (there are already 36 units in the NHS) with more than 480 patients hospitalized, which corresponds to >5000 days of home care. On February 13, 2023, CUF started to make this service available to patients in the municipalities of Almada and Seixal and in the Greater Porto area, as well the previous areas that include Lisboa, Cascais and Sintra.
Unlike all other Home Hospitalization Units, CUF’s is the only one that can offer a complete answer in case there is no caregiver available, being able to provide nursing or auxiliary technicians with the possibility of 1 hour to 24 hours services. The medical and nursing team ensures daily face-to-face visits with a doctor and a nurse and is able to monitor the needs of the inpatient 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Home Hospitalization is a safe and effective alternative. Centered on the patient and on the families/caregivers, this is a model of hospital care that is characterized by the provision of care at home to acutely ill patients, whose bio-psycho-social conditions permit it. It is based on 5 fundamental principles: i) voluntary acceptance of the model, ii) equal rights and duties of the patient, iii) equivalence of quality in the provision of care, iv) accuracy in the admission of patients and their clinical follow-up, v) humanization of services and appreciation of the family role in the process.
All patients have access to an individualized treatment plan that includes daily and face-to-face monitoring by the health team, in a total equivalence of care compared to the hospitalization that the patient would be subject to in a hospital, with obvious health gains for the patient and reinforcement of health knowledge for caregivers and/or family members. Internal Medicine, as a generalist, holistic and hospital specialty, gains a key role here in the follow-up of these patients during hospitalization.
The demographic and social culture of the population in Portugal has undergone significant changes over the years, namely due to the increase in the burden of disease in the Portuguese population influenced by the population aging and the consequent increase in average life expectancy. According to the National Health Survey, in 2019, 41.2% of the population aged over 16 reported having at least one chronic disease or prolonged health problem, which can translate into increased pressure on health services, due to aggravation or exacerbation of these conditions.
In the long term, this situation will become unsustainable due to the saturation of health services and, therefore, there is an urgent need to reformulate the provision of hospital-level health care.
Home Hospitalization Unit achieved its objectives, which we list below:
- community hospital approach
- increase in health literacy
- creation of an integrated home response with the possibility of home consultation with consequent hospitalization, without the need to travel to the hospital unit
- reduction of the average length of hospital stays by 1 day for acute chronic conditions, namely heart failure, and infections in dependent patients
- improvement in the autonomy of patients with a high measure on the Barthel and Braden scale
- great satisfaction of patients and their families, which translates into the absence of clinical complaints and highly rated satisfaction surveys for this specific service
- progressive integration into the patient circuit, with increased referral for surgical specialties and increased consultation referral
- decrease the bed capacity pressure in all the CUF hospitals
- have an effective response at peak heights in hospital units
- develop the possibility of a backup solution for lack of beds in public hospitals, as the NHS Portuguese hospitals have been through difficult times regarding the response to all the community hospitalization needs
- progressive enlargement of the CUF Home Hospitalisation Unit capacity, beginning with 5 virtual beds / 5 patients simultaneously, growing then to ten beds and last year to 15 beds. Currently, with the opening of Almada and Seixal and Oporto in the beginning of the year, we now have a total of 25 beds nationally.
For additional information, https://www.cuf.pt/en/cuf-services/cuf-home-care