House Calls Back In Vogue For Some Doctors
Technology Allowing Docs To Travel With Laptops, Portable Devices
POSTED: 3:02 pm CST February 26, 2009
ST. LOUIS — There are no hard statistics, but experts say more and more doctors are making house calls. And they say that can add up to better care.
In-home visits were once commonplace, but by the early 1970s fewer than 1 percent of doctors made them.
Today, as some of the technology gets smaller, doctors are able to get back on the road not only with their black medical bags, but with a laptop and perhaps a portable X-ray machine.
Steven Landers directs home health care at the Cleveland Clinic, making about 20 calls per week to geriatric and chronically ill patients. He said by visiting them in their own environment, he learns things he wouldn’t otherwise.
Experts say the number of doctors making house calls is still very small, but it’s risen sharply since a Medicare policy change 10 years ago increased the reimbursement for home visits.
Still, that’s mostly for homebound patients. Private and public insurance typically doesn’t pay for house calls made out of convenience rather than necessity, and clients end up paying additional fees.