Can receiving HSCT care at home reduce the risk of GVHD and COVID-19?


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

Anthony D. Sung, MD, of Duke University, Durham, N.C., described this research to David H. Henry, MD, of Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, host of the Blood & Cancer podcast.

On the Nov. 12 episode of Blood & Cancer, Dr. Sung outlined the process of receiving post-HSCT care at home and discussed Duke’s clinical trials assessing the impact of home care on costs, quality of life, the microbiome, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), and other outcomes. The following transcript of that discussion has been edited for length and clarity.

David Henry, MD: Welcome to this podcast. We’re delighted to have you listening today because we’re going to be speaking with Dr. Anthony Sung from Duke University, where he is assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematologic malignancies and cellular therapies.

So let’s get right into it. I’m a generalist at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, where we do auto [autologous] transplants at the main university hospital, autos and allos [allogeneic], and these patients are in [hospital] anywhere from a little bit to a long time. And I’ve often thought to try and do some of this as outpatient. But I think you have a project, which I’m going to ask you to describe, where you try and do most [treatment] outpatient. So tell me what this project is all about, and we’ll skip through how it works.

Anthony Sung, MD: Absolutely. So this is focused on both autologous as well as allogeneic stem cell transplant patients at Duke and a few other centers around the country. Duke University has actually had a long history of an outpatient transplant program. This program is based in a day hospital, which is basically like a high-functioning clinic that’s open 7 days a week. Patients can come into the hospital and receive blood transfusions, IV infusions, and any other therapies that they would need as part of their stem cell transplant treatment in the outpatient setting, returning to their home or to a furnished apartment, temporary lodging, while they’re receiving their care.

What we have done, however, is to take this a step further and deliver care within the patient’s own home. In a sense, we’re returning to an older form of medicine where doctors would make house calls. Within our home-transplant program, instead of the patients having to be in the hospital or instead of having to come back and forth to the outpatient hospital every day, which places additional stresses and strains upon them, our providers will make house calls to the patient’s homes, will draw their labs right there, do a history and physical exam, assess and attend to any of the needs that they have.

Then in the afternoon, the providers will return, have the labs run in the hospital, as they would normally do, a CBC, CMP [comprehensive metabolic panel], and so forth. And then a nurse would return to the patient’s home if needed to deliver any interventions, such as blood transfusions, intravenous fluids, or electrolytes, right there in the comfort of the patient’s own home.


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