While physician house calls to patients were once routine, they are now considered a rarity. Yet a group called Doctors to You is attempting to change accessibility to home healthcare through house calls.
“If a patient comes into a clinic, it’s in a very controlled environment,” notes Dr. Earnest Brown, who founded the group in 2015. “With house visits, I have the opportunity to build a direct relationship between the patient and doctor, as opposed to a quick ten-minute visit in a doctor’s office.”
House visits yield a number of benefits: not only does the patient have privacy, but he/she also does not need to provide transportation. “And for us,” comments Dr. Brown, “We can see the environment in which the patient lives, which is so integral to a patient’s health. I can do more in one house call than I could do in all my years in a clinic.”
Home health visits further allow the physician to spend more time with the patient, which is generally not feasible in a clinic, office, or hospital. Moreover, there are newly developed medical devices that make house calls even more productive.
Dr. Brown carries GE Healthcare’s Vscan Extend™, a handheld, pocket-sized ultrasound system that enables clinicians to make focused assessments and expedite treatment decisions at the point of care.
For example, an executive at NBC had been diagnosed with mononucleosis; he felt a sharp pain in his abdomen, and believed he had an enlarged spleen. While the situation was urgent, he was about to go on air, and thus unable to leave the studio.
Dr. Brown visited the studio and scanned the patient with the Vscan Extend™. He could see that the spleen was not enlarged, and began to explore other possible causes of pain. When Dr. Brown learned that the patient was drinking six cups of coffee a day, he concluded that the patient was developing a gastric ulcer.
Another development includes AMD Global Telemedicine Inc., which released OnDemand Visit: a platform that connects patients with providers in real-time visits through any mobile or PC device. The connection takes place in mere minutes, and requires no travel for the diagnosis of acute conditions or chronic disease management. Features of OnDemand Visit include either ad hoc or scheduled visits, secure audio / video calls, e-prescribing, and lab ordering.
“It is important to be able to reach patients, regardless of the clinician or patient location,” states Eric Bacon, president of AMD.