Before the advent of high-tech equipment, doctors saw many of their patients at home. As technology advanced, physicians discovered they could treat their patients better from a central location with devices that increased their ability to provide care. Today, as physician waiting rooms get fuller, and the time a doctor gets to spend with patients steadily decreases, many doctors and patients desire something better. Enter the rebirth of the house call.

As the rate of growth of the elderly population increases, so too do their needs, and many of the oldest and sickest patients lack the means, or health, to see a doctor in the office. Many of these aged patients end up in the emergency room, which is expensive to an already taxed Medicare system. However, in the United States, Medicare now offers reimbursements to physicians who make house calls, and the Independence at Home Act will encourage more doctors to treat patients at home. In Canada, the government has multiple initiatives for expanding house call services.

Doctors who make house calls get to spend more time with their patients and provide more tailored care. They get to see how their patients live and acquire a better understanding of the obstacles patients may face. Mobile technology also expands the services the in-home doctor can provide, including blood tests, lab draws, and even x-rays and EKGs.

Of the many benefits in-home care provides, one of the most important is the change that occurs in the relationship between physician and patient. The patient-doctor relationship becomes more proactive than reactive when doctors have the time to connect more with the lives of those in their care.

About the Author: Dr. Randy Allan provides in-home care through the Main Street Medical Clinic in Winnipeg, Canada. Dr. Allan established house call procedures at Main Street and Four River Medical Clinic and is the only primary care physician in his area that performs a multitude of in-home lab tests.

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