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House calls making a comeback?

The doctor will see you now … in your home. In last week’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Stephen Landers, director of Cleveland Clinic Care at Home, discussed the growth and benefits of physician home visits, better known as house calls. Cleveland Clinic Care at Home makes about 250,000 house calls […]

The doctor will see you now … in your home.

In last week’s edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Stephen Landers, director of Cleveland Clinic Care at Home, discussed the growth and benefits of physician home visits, better known as house calls.

Cleveland Clinic Care at Home makes about 250,000 house calls a year to patients throughout Northeast Ohio, including residents of Medina, Portage, Stark and Summit counties.

Services include physician house calls, home respiratory therapy, home infusion therapy, diabetes management, wound care, skilled nursing, hospice and physical, occupational, nutritional and speech therapy.

”In the past century, health care became highly concentrated in hospitals, clinics and other facilities,” Landers wrote in his article, entitled Why Health Care is Going Home.

”But I believe that the venue of care for the future is the patient’s home, where clinicians can combine old-fashioned sensibilities and caring with the application of new technologies to respond to major demographic, epidemiologic and health-care trends.”

Earlier this year, Akron-based SummaCare expanded its Physician House Calls Program to serve patients 65 and older who have a physical disability that makes it difficult for them to go to the doctor’s office.

Landers attributes the need for more in-home medical services to an aging population, more people living with multiple chronic diseases, technological improvements, consumer choice and cost. The services typically are used by patients who are homebound and diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses.

According to the Academy of Home Care Physicians, a typical house call costs $100 to $125, compared to as much as $1,500 or more for a trip to the emergency room.

”In my Cleveland Clinic practice, I work in my patients’ homes, using a cellular broadband connection to the same electronic record system used by my colleagues in offices and hospitals,” Landers said. ”I learn practical information about my patients’ medications, management of chronic illnesses, and nutrition and check in on how their caregivers are coping.

”Patients often see the home visit as a gesture of caring, and many of my older patients express nostalgia for an era when house calls were common.”

Cheryl Powell is a health reporter for The Akron Beacon Journal, the daily newspaper in Akron and a syndication partner of MedCity News.

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