It may seem counter-intuitive, but giving these vulnerable patients individualized primary care at home saves money for the nation's health care system, according to studies by Department of Veterans Affairs and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), among others.
What goes around, comes around. It was routine in the 1950’s for doctors to make house calls and deliver a high level of service to their patients. Well, here we are in 2021, and we might be going back in time, not just to deliver better services but to cut costs from a bloated healthcare system. The Home Care Providers industry is among the fastest growing healthcare industries in the United States.
The house call remains a fundamental medical service and is no less necessary in 2020 than it was when I accompanied Dr. Robb on that formative visit as a teenager in Hampton.
A MacArthur “genius” grant winner is now formally studying how hot-spotting method cuts expensive emergency room visits and delivers better care.
Health advocates generally support using technology to make medical care more convenient. As these companies grow, however, some question the return of the house call.
A century ago, most medical visits were in the patient's home. But cities got bigger and doctors began using more equipment, therefore it made sense for them to not travel more than 10 steps from patient room to patient room.
When you're sick, sometimes it feels impossible to get out of bed, let alone get to the doctor. And the last thing anyone wants to do is spend hours at the emergency room.
So Silicon Valley is retooling a service that was common almost a century ago: the house call.
‘If someone was calling at 3 a.m.,’ he says, ‘I was out of bed and out of the house within 10 minutes.’
Making house calls sounds simple. But we worry that physicians-in-training aren’t learning the skills they need to care for their patients at home.
With a little creativity, we can envision mobile health technology leading to the restoration of an almost forgotten medical tradition: The house call. Imagine the connected doctor travelling to patients as needed, with a portfolio of cloud-enabled diagnostic, therapeutic, and decision-support tools at her disposal.
Of course doctors can’t practice drunk. But 24-hour care has a set of rules of its own.
Very, very few doctors will actually want this kind of life.
The rise in house calls by primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and other health care professionals treating older patients partly reflects the realization that it’s much better for those with multiple symptoms to be seen at home.
“We can’t compete with the 40 patients a day doctors would see in their office, but we can provide higher quality of care for the patients we do see and a higher quality of care delivery for the doctors. So doctors enjoy the experience, patients get more out of the experience and the system saves money as a result.”
In a world where many doctors struggle to make money seeing four patients an hour, how can they run a successful practice driving to patients’ homes and spending all the time their patients need?
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