Evaluating Physicians Who Offer House Calls: A Guide for Patients and Families
by Eric Baron, MD
For every individual in a nursing home, there are three more people equally fragile and infirm living at home, according to the American Academy of Home Care Physicians (AAHCP). Physicians and medical groups specializing in house calls have become increasingly available to such patients. This growth in Medicare benefits was a result of four years of volunteer effort led by the AAHCP, which, since 1988, has served the needs of thousands of physicians and related professionals as well as those agencies interested in improving the care of patients remaining in their homes.
If you are unable to visit your own physician, house call physicians who come to your home can provide consultations to your doctor or serve as your private doctor. Because of changes in medical technology, a physician can come to your home with portable medical equipment and provide high-quality medical care.
A higher quality of medical care results from good physicians who are well-supervised. With this article, you can evaluate those physicians specializing in house calls so that you will be able to get the best physician possible to visit your home.
To protect yourself and your family, it is vital to learn how to recognize poorly-supervised medical groups. The following questions are important to ask any physician offering to come to your home:
– Is the physician who owns your medical group present every day at the local facility?
– Do you have a medical director and, if so, is the medical director present every day?
– Are you board-certified?
If the physician answers “no” to any of these questions, you should consider calling your local Area Agency on Aging before letting the physician into your home.
How to Recognize High-Quality House Call Medical Groups
High-quality medical groups performing house calls display thoughtfulness and conscientious care of geriatric patients. Proper patient care requires a thorough evaluation of the patient and diligent coordination of services with the home health agency. Legitimate medical groups have a reputation for making decisions based on the best interests of the patient. Call your local home health agency or speak with a home care nurse and ask: “What is this physician’s reputation for the quality of care?” A physician-owner presence is also key when recognizing high-standard medical groups. The physician registered as owning the group should be present every day or have hired a medical director to be present in his/her place. The medical group should have membership in the AAHCP. Not only must the house call physician be a current member, but he/she should follow the AAHCP’s “Principles of Medical Ethics.”
About the AAHCP
Community standards are rising as increasing numbers of high-quality physicians are offering house calls. The AAHCP has published home care ethical guidelines and developed standards for credentialing physician home care medical practices. With the academy’s volunteers consistently working to enhance practice education, they have provided this community with different useful publications. Its members now include home care physicians and individuals who can either act as home health agency medical directors or offer referrals to such agencies. Their specialties include internal medicine; family practice; pediatrics; and geriatrics, among others. The AAHCP office can be reached at 410-676-7966.
The AAHCP provides a list of its members and medical groups providing home care physician services as a public service. The listing is intended for informational purposes only. The AAHCP does not check the compliance of its members with licensing, billing, or other regulatory requirements. It cannot attest to the qualifications and billing practices of individual physicians. Therefore, users should obtain information about licensure, qualifications, and billing from the physicians and groups themselves.
Article Reprinted with the Permission of the AAHCP http://www.aahcp.org/
AAHCP members and medical groups who practice in the DC Metro Region
For specific zip codes of practice contact individual offices or visit http://www.aahcp.org/
District of Columbia
George Taler, MD 202/877-0218
K. Eric DeJonge, MD 202/877-0218
Patricia F. Harris, MD, MS 202/877-0218
Colleen Jude, MD 301/475-6900
Edward L. Mosley, MD 301/809-6700
Ellen Reilley Farrell, MS, CRNP 301/854-5590
Gerren S. Perry, MD 301/317-8660
Jasmine Chen Gatti, MD 301/656-5671
Mary Blanken, CRNP 301/754-7740
Alan W. Dappen, MD 703/938-4604
Deborah A. Rich, MD 1-800-553-0618
M. Dean Havron, Jr., MD 540/722-3878
William L. Simpson, MD 540/347-4783