NH program matches medical residents with seniors for in-home visits

Doctor and patient with heldheld device

A New Hampshire program that sends medical residents to the homes of elderly patients for routine care is keeping frail seniors out of the hospital.

Catalyzed by the 2012 Medicare pilot program called Independent at Home, which created incentives for providers to care for seniors in their homes in return for a share of the savings, the New Hampshire program matches 80 frail senior citizens with 24 second-and third-year medical residents from Concord Hospital, reports the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Led by B.J. Entwisle, M.D., a geriatrician at Concord Hospital, the program’s medical residents are part of a team that includes a behavioral health specialist, a social worker and a nurse, according to the newspaper. While they’re in the patient’s home, the medical resident pays attention to the senior’s gait and cognitive ability. The physician-in-training also monitors medication effectiveness and determines fall risks.

The patients receive a home visit once every other month from one of the medical residents in the program.

"[The program] teaches you how to be a better doctor. It teaches you to listen and it teaches you to hear," third-year medical resident Tida Lam told the Union Leader. "I can't imagine what would happen to some of these patients if we forced them to go to the doctors."