Doctor house calls making a comeback

In an effort to improve care quality for elderly and chronically ill patients and reduce health care costs, a “small but growing tribe” of clinicians are reviving the once-ubiquitous practice of making house calls—which “virtually disappeared” from the American health care system in the 1980s—the Washington Post reports.

 

The Washington Post article notes that there are a small but growing tribe of doctors, nurses, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who are reviving this once-common practice for keeping Americans healthy and in touch with their doctors. Having virtually disappeared from medical practice by the 1980s, the house call has been making somewhat of a comeback, thanks primarily to Medicare changes that make house calls more easily billable. Advocates say revival of the house call could help reduce health-care costs substantially and enhance quality of care for many elderly and chronically ill patients. House calls also support the Medical Home model of care, designed to improve care by establishing a single Medical group or doctor who would coordinate all aspects of care for a particular patient.

 

For generations, the home visit was an institution, something a doctor, black bag in hand, just did. In 1930, house calls made up about 40 percent of physician encounters with patients in the United States, according to a recent article in the journal Clinics in Geriatric Medicine. By 1950, that number had dropped to 10 percent. And by 1980, home visits accounted for a mere 1 percent.

 

Click here for the article.

 

(SOURCES: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisoryboard.com, March 25, 2009; The Washington Post, http://washingtonpost.com, accessed April 4, 2009)