MedStar Health is the latest to join a nationwide effort to boost the number of physicians trained to make house calls. The tradition is outdated, but it is making a quick comeback, as seven medical institutions have already banned together to offer house call programs.
Home Centered Care Institute oversees the new training program. The nonprofit’s mission is to boost excellent home-based primary care for people who are homebound. House calls have shown to provide better outcomes for patients and decrease health care costs.
MedStar Total Elder Care’s Medical House Call Program is an accredited “Centers of Excellence” that will offer physicians comprehensive training to provide high-quality primary home care.
In Baltimore, the house call program is administered through the Good Samaritan Hospital. The program was established in 1999 at the Washington Hospital Center in D.C. It expanded to the Baltimore region in 2016 and so far, 105 patients have enrolled. Home-based care will ensure homebound people receive the treatment they need.
By 2060, an estimated 98.2 million people in the United States will be 65 years of age and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In 2015, there were 1.2 million people age 60 and older living in Maryland. This number is expected to grow to 1.7 million by 2030, according to the state Department of Aging.
Physicians and other health care providers are embracing the increase in house calls, because it offers a more personalized care and offers cost benefits to the health care system.
During the house call, physicians can assess the patient’s home to determine if it is safe and healthy, as well as determine if there is enough food available. According to a 2014 report on hospital readmissions, those measures could decrease expensive rehospitalizations, while reducing physical and emotional stress on sick and/or elderly patients.
The University of Arizona Center on Aging, Cleveland Clinic, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and University of California, San Francisco are already participating in the initiative.
According to a 2016 health Affairs study, 7,000 primary care providers treat most of the nursing home residents and only 1,000 primary care providers conduct office calls.
“We know there’s about 3 million people that could use this now, but only 400,000 are getting served,” said CEO and founder of the Home Centered Care Institute, Dr. Thomas Cornwell. Over the next five years, the Centers of Excellence will train 5,000 physicians and medical practice administrators. The curriculum includes small group work, practice management skills and skills-based training.