House Calls: No Longer a Service of the Past
Remember the days when doctors made house calls? Believe it or not they still do! The doctor carrying the little black bag has returned. As the frail and chronically ill elderly population continues to increase, the demand for house call medicine is going to grow.
There are several advantages of visiting patients in their homes. Doctors who see patients at home get a full picture of the patient’s living environment. They can assess safety and nutritional issues as well as capabilities of the caregivers in the home. The result is improved patient outcomes. In addition, house calls help reduce the stress of transporting a sick loved one to a doctor’s office. House calls also help decrease the number of hospital admissions and reduce the dependence on emergency services.
While visiting doctors carry the typical “black bag”, they also use advanced technologies and sophisticated diagnostic tools to perform everything from blood tests to electrocardiograms. They also work closely with mobile x-ray companies, visiting podiatrists, visiting nurses and other home care specialists in order to arrange visits as necessary.
House calls are covered under Medicare Part B and mostly all Medigap (secondary) insurance plans. House calls can be made to private residences, assisted living facilities and senior housing buildings.
House calls help to improve access to care by reaching out to a medically underserved population. Because the homebound and elderly have great difficulty getting to an office-based physician, they often fail to seek medical attention until their condition worsens. By being in an environment that is comfortable for the patient, their health care experience can be greatly improved.
When illness disrupts a person’s life, many factors play a part in the care of the patient. Access to quality and affordable healthcare may be hard to come by, but house calls provide cost-effective and high quality care that is just one phone call away.
If you are a caregiver and would like to learn more about house calls or other home care services, please visit the website of the Coalition on Family Caregiving at www.cfcares.org. The Coalition on Family Caregiving, formed in 2003, is a group of community-based organizations, businesses and individuals whose mission is to assist family caregivers by offering support, education and information on resources and services.