House calls may offer cost-effective, higher quality care for elderly

According to the American Academy of Home Care Physicians (AAHCP), the cost of 10 house calls is offset by one prevented $1,500 ER visit, Healthcare Finance News reported. This potential to save Medicare 20 to 40 percent is just one of the reasons proponents say that house calls help answer the challenge of caring for an aging population in the era of healthcare reform.

In addition, frail elderly patients with multiple chronic conditions may receive better care when physicians visit them at home, said Alex Binder, the chief operating officer of New Jersey-based Visiting Physician Services.

Today's healthcare system is "industrialized medicine," Binder told HFN. "It's everything by algorithm and computer. What we have found is there's a segment of the population--primarily the frail and elderly--where those algorithms and that entire model causes more harm than good. It absolutely causes unnecessary expenditures. It's not cost effective. It's not in alignment with what the patient and the family probably would prefer for these last few years of life." 

But while Medicare's Independence at Home project aims to leverage the advent of mobile medical technology to serve this vulnerable and challenging population, doctors looking to add house calls on their own must weigh the pros and cons carefully. Practices need to assess, for example, whether the reimbursement they receive from house calls will offset the costs of vehicle expenses, travel time, liability implications, potential for injury and lost revenue from being away from the practice.

To learn more:
- read the article from Healthcare Finance News