It's Baaaack! The House Call, That Is

Guess who's making house calls again?  If you guessed technical support for your wireless device, wrong.  It's doctors.

For many, if not most of you reading this, you're probably thinking, so, what's the big deal?  But I can remember Dr. Cunningham (who smelled like a pipe) coming over to treat my brother for something or other when we were kids and that it was nothing unusual.

But the thought of a doctor coming over today, well, they just don't have the time if they're going to make money.  With doctors having to see volumes of patients just to pay the bills, it's been a trend that went out with One Direction (who think they're still bigger than the Beatles).

Yet here it is.  "The house call — is returning to favor as part of some hospitals’ palliative care programs, which are sending teams of physicians, nurses, social workers, chaplains and other workers to patients’ homes after they are discharged," writes Milt Freudenheim at The New York Times. The goal is twofold: to provide better treatment and to cut costs.

They're preventing the big old bogeyman that hospitals fear -- readmissions.  That people who were treated and discharged, then return again because they didn't take their medications or do the physical therapy they were supposed to or any of a number of things doctors tell them and patients usually ignore.

Many hospitals are being scored -- and penalized -- for too many readmissions.

Home care is generally cheaper than hospital care, and for more than a decade, government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid have worked to create incentives for hospitals to switch to less-expensive treatment, Freudenheim reports. "Recently, under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare has begun to penalize hospitals when, under certain conditions, patients are readmitted within 30 days after discharge," he notes.

I don't think the doctor will come if you stub your toe, or have a cold.  But if you've recently been discharged from a hospital with a follow-up plan, there's a good chance you may be seeing her at your door sometime soon.


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