House call medicine used to be a time-honored tradition.
Eighty five years ago, more than 40 percent of patients saw doctors in their own homes rather than at a hospital or office, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
House call doctors helped people who were confined to a bed or unable to travel to a doctor’s appointment to get necessary medical care. While the majority of patient care still takes place in a clinical setting, house call medicine is making a bit of a comeback.
In 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched a house-call pilot program in 14 states, including Florida, to test the effect of providing house call services to nearly 10,000 Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions.
During these visits, which typically last an hour, a doctor reviews a patient’s chart and medication and does a medical exam. We also carefully examine the list of medications you’re taking to flag potential drug interactions that may cause serious side effects. In these cases, we may change medication or alter the dosage to make sure the patient is safe. The overall goal with house call medicine is to provide the best care possible and to help people avoid hospitalizations that could have been preventable.
Unfortunately, not every practice offers house call services. According to AAFP, only 13 percent of family physicians made regular house calls in 2013 and an even small number made more than two house call visits a week. House call doctors typically see patients once a month, depending on their condition.
At MetroHealth, as part of our concierge services we offer in-home visits to Medicare Advantage patients who require medically necessary care but can’t come to our office. It’s really a throwback to the days when your doctor didn’t think twice about making personal visits to oversee your health needs. It’s such an important service to provide because many patients are too frail or sick to travel. Many people also suffer from multiple chronic conditions that make them less mobile. For family members, it’s also difficult. Getting a loved one to and from the doctor amid other family and work obligations can be challenging, especially if your loved one requires more than one person to help them get in and out of a wheelchair or to be transferred from one location to another.
People can also feel more comfortable when they receive care in their home. There’s a great need to offer this kind of service to homebound or bedbound seniors, especially because the elderly population is expected to increase to nearly 55 million people within the next five years.
Everyone deserves the highest quality of care. For many seniors it is important to grow old in the comfort of their own home and house call medicine can help them maintain their quality of life by offering regular medical care no matter where they are. Too often, seniors don’t get the care they need because they can’t see a doctor. House call medicine closes this gap and may prevent more serious health issues or hospitalizations down the road.