There are significant differences and distinct advantages over the other between the two types of care which will be categorized according to the patient's need, quality and availability of services, cost and benefits, and family involvement.
A patient who needs close monitoring and frequent skilled nursing intervention, who has complex medication administration that cannot be safely done at home is recommended to avail of inpatient care. A medical team can provide the same monitoring for home health care but at a limited and set schedule. They may be on call 24 hours but some unforeseen emergencies despite careful monitoring can result to fatal results in a short span of time. On the other hand, some patients thrive more in their familiar home environment and their psychological comfort encourages recovery, or at least, pave the way for acceptance of their condition.
Hospitals and health care providers are taking adequate measures to ensure that there is no disparity between inpatient and home health care services. However, inpatient services are more inclined to be professional because the hospital setting tends to reinforce strict adherence to their duties, especially under the watchful eye of immediate supervisors. Services provided in home care could be the same but it is outside the hospital perimeters and if there are any discrepancies with the health care, these are usually exposed when the patient has to be rushed for re-admission for reasons beyond predicted regression due to the nature of the patient's illness. Another advantage that the inpatient service has is the 24/7 availability of competent staff while the nursing service provided for home health care has a maximum hours allotted per week.
There is no denying that many patients and their families opt for home care because the quality of services is not necessarily sacrificed despite being less expensive than inpatient care. If the patient has health insurance, some home care benefits can not be covered as much as the inpatient's such as nutritionist, pastoral, and respite care services, homemaking/custodial and palliative care, and volunteer services (Medicare Rights Center). However, if a patient is diagnosed with terminal illness and he or she would still want to continue receiving curative treatment, inpatient service is not recommended because it is not covered in most health insurances but it will be provided under home care.
Last but not the least is the difference in the level of involvement of family members between inpatient and home health care. Friends and family can visit you at the hospital and even live with you, enjoying the comforts of home as some hospitals are designed to be like, but they are not in-charge of taking care of your medical needs. They are not given significant responsibilities in taking care of the patient. Thus, possible alienation on both parts could occur. Unlike in home health care wherein the family members are allotted sole responsibility in taking care of the patient's needs. Patient tends to feel more comfortable and secure with the knowledge that he is being taken care of by people whom he loves and who evidently loves him in return with the way they meet his needs.
With the presentation of inpatient and home health care differences in advantages, the decision still lies on the patient and/or the patient's family. Factors such as nature of sickness,