Patients are increasingly being treated with complex medical technologies in their own home. This offers great benefits, however, it also introduces risks. Despite improvements in recent years, points of special interest still exist. This was the conclusion of an RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment investigation commissioned by the Inspectorate of Health Care (IGZ).

Use of complex medical technologies at home can lead to time and cost savings as well as to improved quality of life because patients can remain in their familiar surroundings and retain a higher degree of autonomy. In addition, risks associated with institutional care, such as hospital infections, occur less frequently. However, risks are introduced because equipment was not originally designed for home use, and health care professionals are not continuously on hand in the home environment.

Recommendations from previous studies

In previous studies, RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment and IGZ made an inventory of complex medical technologies used at home with their associated risks, and formulated recommendations for improvements. Follow-up research now shows that these recommendations have been largely implemented. However, not all risks have been adequately addressed yet.

Based on the recommendations made in previous studies, various improvements have been implemented in home treatment with medical technologies by the parties involved. One such improvement is the field standard for chronic mechanical ventilation, which sets minimum requirements for home treatment. In addition, support centres for home dialysis are now certified.

Points of special interest

However, points of special interest still exist. Home care workers with the right expertise are not always available. Furthermore, patients and their carers are sometimes not adequately supported during the transfer from hospital to the home situation. Frequently, there is uncertainty about who is responsible for what.  Many parties are involved in home treatment. In addition to the patients and their carers, medical specialists, general practitioners, pharmacists, home care institutions and health insurers are involved.