By Dr. Renee Dua
The new year is always a time to reflect on resolutions and your family’s health always seems to make it to the top of the list. The best resolution is to make sure your family gets their annual physicals and regular preventive care.
Like all resolutions, that’s easier said than done. The average wait time to get an appointment at your doctor’s office is 24 days. That’s on top of all the arrangements required from missing work, to battling traffic, to sitting in the waiting room. A seemingly old-fashioned solution is now saving us all-time: doctor house calls. From young children to the elderly, doctor house calls provide a more convenient, more comprehensive form of healthcare with proven results.
In the 1950s, a doctor coming to your home was the norm, which started rapidly declining in the 1980s, in parallel with the rise of medical technology that couldn’t necessarily travel. In the next couple of decades, house calls became synonymous with a nursing-home type benefit reserved for the severely ill. However, as technology continues to evolve, the doctor house call for every age has returned and is proving to be a mainstream source of medical care again.
Families naturally have busy lives, juggling between work, school, activities, and other responsibilities. Doctor house calls offer a way to fit routine, preventive care into our lives, without losing time or money. This is especially true for families with newborns. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 12 well-child exams from birth to two years old. Instead of arranging a visit for each one, doctor house calls can make parents’ lives easier while sparing their young ones from other people’s germs.
House calls also naturally serve the elderly members of our family, whether they are dealing with a chronic condition or something more serious. In a recent study of Medicare patients, house calls helped reduce hospitalizations by 9 percent and sub-specialty visits by 23 percent. A doctor in the home can help evaluate fall risks, reconcile medications, and prevent emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and unnecessary specialist visits.
Skeptics often wonder how house calls can be efficient at all, especially with the travel. The answer is to reduce time spent on paperwork. Currently, two-thirds of a doctors’ time is expended on paperwork. This keeps doctors from being comprehensive and instead, spending an average of seven minutes with each patient handling the most urgent issue. According to the Annals of Family Medicine, given the current system, primary care physicians would need to work over 20 hours a day to provide the necessary preventive care for patients. It’s no wonder that doctor burnout is at an all time high; doctor’s can’t practice medicine the way they should.
Doctor house calls offer families a quality, easy alternative to going to an office while allowing doctors to spend the time needed to address all patients’ needs. Using Heal, the doctor house call company, as a case study, automation gives time back so that doctors get to know their patients. In fact, the average appointment offered via Heal’s platform is over 31 minutes and doctors only see 12 to 15 patients per day.
Whether it’s a kid that would rather play with her toys than go to a doctor’s office or a grandpa that is recovering from surgery, house calls are paving the way to a form of care that works for families, doctors, and payors. Doctor house calls demonstrate that convenience and efficiency do not have to be at odds with quality, relationship-based care for our families.