Could home care replace inpatient HSCT?


Can receiving all posttransplant care at home benefit patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT)? Researchers are conducting phase 2 trials to find out.

Dr. Nelson Chao of Duke University in Durham, N.C.

Dr. Nelson Chao

Nelson Chao, MD, and colleagues at Duke University in Durham, N.C., completed a phase 1 trial that suggested post-HSCT care at home was feasible and safe (Blood. 2017;130:745).

Now, the team is conducting phase 2 trials – NCT01725022 and NCT02218151 – comparing patients who receive all posttransplant care at home with patients treated in the hospital or in the outpatient setting with daily visits to the clinic.

The main goal is to determine if allogeneic HSCT recipients treated at home can maintain their normal microbiome and, as a result, have a lower risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). The researchers are also looking at other outcomes such as quality of life, treatment-related morbidities and mortality, and the cost of care for both allogeneic and autologous transplant recipients.

To be eligible for home care after HSCT, a patient must live within a 90-minute driving distance of Duke and have a caregiver available at home. The patient’s home must pass an inspection, showing it to be free of sources for potential infection, such as mold or pets that sleep in the patient’s bed.

When the time comes for treatment, the patient receives conditioning at the hospital but can return home the day before or the day of transplant. After discharge, the patient is visited by a nurse practitioner or physician assistant each morning for a physical examination and blood draw.

In the afternoon, the patient is visited by a clinic nurse who brings any necessary supplies or treatments, such as blood products or intravenous antibiotics. The patient also has daily video calls with an attending physician and can be admitted to the hospital for any events that cannot be managed in the home setting.

Patients can have visitors and spend time away from home, but precautions are necessary. Friends or family who are sick should not be allowed to visit, and patients should avoid crowds when they go out.

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Initial findings

The Duke team has treated 41 HSCT recipients at home so far. Dr. Chao said it’s still too early to draw any conclusions about differences in outcomes between home care and inpatient/outpatient HSCT.

However, a preliminary analysis of costs suggests home care is cheaper than inpatient HSCT. The researchers found that, for the first several transplants, at day 60, the cost of home care was roughly half that of inpatient HSCT.

In addition, patients seem to be happy with posttransplant care at home.

“The patients love being at home, in their own environment, with their families,” Dr. Chao said. “Almost every single patient [in the phase 1 trial] said that he or she liked it much better. There was one patient in the phase 1 that felt a little isolated, and I can see why because we say, ‘You can stay home, but don’t have a whole lot of people in.’ ”


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