As the industry looks to cut unnecessary visits, recent research in the American Journal of Managed Care suggests hospitals consider making house calls.
That's because the house-call model is associated with lower admissions and higher satisfaction among elderly patients with multiple chronic conditions, American Medical News reported.
When physicians, nurse practitioners, nurse care managers and social workers visit patients monthly, only 26 percent of patients in a house-call program run by HealthCare Partners were hospitalized, compared to more than 37 percent of those getting usual care. Moreover, satisfaction among house-call patients jumped 18 percent during a six-month period, while it stayed the same for usual care recipients.
Although home care may boost satisfaction while reducing hospitalizations, it doesn't mean lower medical costs, according to the study.
Nevertheless, reduced hospitalizations may still make house calls an attractive option to hospitals now that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will begin penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates starting next month, amednews noted.
The study also noted that hospitals could reap savings if they implement the home-care model for a longer period of time or for patients with more complex medical conditions.
Some hospitals already have cut costs with house calls. For example, a group of hospitals in upstate New York reduced inpatient readmissions by 25 percent, thanks to a home visit program, estimating as much as $100 saved for every dollar invested.