Why Health Plans Should Provide House Calls
Nostalgia channels on TV show a young population what it might have been like to have a doctor come to their home when they’re sick. Grandparents tell stories about children being born at home, doctor visits in the dead of a snow-filled winter, and only walking into the town doctor's office when spring arrived. Youngsters see this as just more questionable TV programming, but the reality is home doctor visits are no longer a thing of the past. Thanks to technology and innovation, there are many clinical services that can now be done in the home, which leads to the question, “are house calls making a comeback?”
One on One Time
An in-home health assessment or screening can give a member’s doctor more information. When the member is comfortable in his or her home they are more open to the visiting doctor’s questions and examinations.
House calls usually take between 45 minutes to an hour, not the ten minutes allotted in a busy doctor office. With a longer time frame, the level of information shared grows exponentially. Portable diagnostic machinery can be loaded into the car, while in-depth examinations can be just that: in-depth.
How Home Life Affects Health
When a doctor enters a home for a health risk assessment or health screening, he or she is able to evaluate a number of potential hazards and habits that would not be noticeable or reported in an office setting. Loose rugs, square-edged furnishings or tables, poor air quality, inadequate heating or air conditioning can all be reviewed and documented in terms of fall risk and home safety. The provider can also note if they notice poor nutritional habits, if the member is drinking enough water, and if they have an exercise routine. These findings can then be shared with the member’s health plan and care management team to ensure actions are taken to keep the member safe and healthy. A safer home along with good habits means a member is not costing Medicare and Medicaid money due to hospital or nursing home stays.
Comfort and Convenience
Access to transportation plays a critical role in the lives of Medicare health plan members. Seniors 65 and older who no longer drive, risk poor health outcomes as data shows 15% of people this age take fewer trips to the doctor. Offering in-home health assessments and screenings offers low income and at-risk older adults convenient access to quality health evaluations to communicate needs and health status.
In terms of comfort, the member can recline comfortably on the couch or bed, remain in their pajamas and carry on with the examination. Comfortable people talk more. They tell the doctor things they wouldn’t think of saying in an office setting. If the member can’t move due to joint pain or other bone problems, then the convenience of not having to move at all is just too good to pass up. This is especially true when the patient is on oxygen, is paralyzed or otherwise would be difficult to move to get to the doctor office.
Prevention, Education and Early Detection
In home health assessments and health screenings lead to prevention through advice and instruction, education through informational handouts and answering of questions, and early detection through documenting symptoms that might go unnoticed in a doctor's office setting. The goal is always to leave members better than they were found and through in-home visits providers are able to get an inside look into a member’s life in order to help prevent disease, educate members on how to live a healthier life, and report any concerns the member may have in order to provide better care.
Providing doctors who perform in home health assessments is our specialty, contact us to learn more.