What the Research Says About the Impact of House Calls on Patients
A slowly growing body of literature on the impact of medical house call programs concludes that these programs are effective in reducing hospital and emergency room use and improving patient quality of life and well-being. A 1999 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that elderly house call participants reduced their use of hospitals by 65 percent with cost savings of 50 percent over similar patients who receive their care through a traditional office-based practice.1 A 2004 study of a medical house call program in the mid west found that the program: (1) improved patients’ medication and health management; (2) helped families feel more informed about the patients’ medical conditions and relieved of the burden of transporting patients to the doctors; (3) reduced hospital and emergency services use; and (4) enabled far more patients to die at home rather than in a hospital. The study also interviewed office-based physicians who expressed relief that they could concentrate on caring for their patient caseload without worrying about managing complex homebound patients over the phone.2 A 2006 evaluation of the Visiting Nurses Association of Cleveland’s house call program found the program helped in preventing functional decline and reduced hospitalizations. Patients and referral sources also expressed high levels of satisfaction with the program.
1. Naylor, M. et al. (1999). Comprehensive discharge planning and home follow-up of hospitalized elders. Journal of the American Medical Association, 281, 613-620.
2. Muramatsu, N., Mensah, E. and T Cornwell, T. (May 2004). A physician house call program for the homebound. Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety, 30(5), 266-274.
3. Anetzberger, G., Stricklin, M., Gauntner, D., Banozic, R. and Laurie R. (2006). VNA house calls of greater Cleveland, Ohio: Development and pilot evaluation of a program for high-risk older adults offering primary medical care in the home. Home Health Care Services Quarterly, 25(3-4), 155-66.
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