SALT LAKE CITY – Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) has launched a unique new service called Huntsman at Home. This service brings HCI-quality care into the homes of HCI patients, whose medical needs range from symptom management to physical therapy after cancer surgery to end-of-life care. Huntsman at Home may also allow patients to be discharged from the HCI cancer hospital sooner by enabling them to receive follow-up care in their own home.
Huntsman at Home is a step up from traditional home health care because it’s based on care the patient requires. “The main difference is we can be acutely responsive to the patient’s needs and provide high level, intensive cancer support and care with our visits,” said Karen Titchener, MS, APRN, director of Huntsman at Home and adjunct assistant professor of nursing at the U of U.
“Huntsman at Home provides care tailored to the needs of each patient. This mirrors the attention to detail patients receive in our hospital,” said Anna Beck, MD, director of Supportive Oncology and Survivorship at HCI and professor of internal medicine at the U of U. “We know that staying in the hospital or traveling to a clinic is a major disruption in someone’s life, so we are striving to change the model of how cancer care is provided by bringing some of our care into their own home.”
HCI patients must receive a referral from their oncologist to receive the service. The same day of the referral, a member of the Huntsman at Home care team goes to the patient’s home and meets with them, their family, and their caregivers. The Huntsman at Home team includes HCI doctors and nurse practitioners. It is operated in partnership with Community Nursing Services. Care is always under the direction of the patient’s HCI doctor.
The team assesses and treats issues caused by cancer or cancer treatments. “We’ve already stopped many hospital admissions by providing Huntsman at Home care,” said Titchener. “For example, patients with extreme nausea after chemotherapy are able to call us and we can visit them and help alleviate symptoms with medication and hydration fluids. This relieves the stress to both the patient and family knowing someone is there for help and support.”
Specialists on the team also provide care for cancer patients at the end of life. Huntsman at Home providers give ongoing support to manage symptoms and keep the patient comfortable. “They are safe in our hands, whatever aspect of the journey they are on,” noted Titchener.
The Huntsman at Home service is available seven days a week. It is now available in Salt Lake City with plans to expand to a broader area. The project is in a three-year pilot phase, with the intent to evaluate the findings and bring insights to cancer care organizations around the world.
Aspects of Huntsman at Home build on research conducted at HCI by Kathleen Mooney, PhD, RN, on home symptom care techniques for cancer patients and their family caregivers.
The research underlying this service was supported by the Huntsman Cancer Foundation (HCF) and the National Cancer Institute via P01CA138317 and P30 CA042014. The implementation of Huntsman at Home is supported by HCF and the evaluation of this new cancer supportive and palliative care delivery model is supported by Cambia Health Foundation.