About Time: House Calls Making a Comeback

They save money, keep patients out of ERs: Ezekiel Emanuel

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 6, 2013 1:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – One modern health care trend has old-fashioned roots: "After a half-century, the house call is making a comeback," writes Ezekiel Emanuel in the New York Times. It's a welcome trend as far as he's concerned, because these kinds of calls can take care of low-level problems such as stomach pain, fever, or a cut that needs stitches—the types of problems that account for roughly 40% of the nation's ER visits. Keeping these patients out of hospitals can save big money.

Today's house calls can have a modern component. Emanuel writes of one contractor that uses software to help determine when doctors should go out or patients should come in. The same contractor also offers "virtual house calls" in which patients can get checked out via webcam. ObamaCare is helping the push by penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates, often caused by patients who fail to take their medicine. As a result, more and more hospitals are sending out nurses to homes. The examples abound, and they make sense in terms of costs and patient care. "House calls are a sign that we will all see our health care going back to the 'old days' when, like my father, the doctor came to our homes, giving us real personalized medicine—and saving money at the same time," writes Emanuel. Click for his full column.

  (Shutterstock)
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