Once upon a time, many moonrises ago, the medical profession in the United States looked dramatically different than it does today. In those days of yore, when homesteaders raised children and cattle and crops, when transportation was limited to horses and buggies, and even through the earliest days where horseless carriages -or automobiles- were the purview of the wealthier Americans, doctors made house calls. Then, something shifted in American medicine and changed all that.
It became institutionalized.
Hospitals and clinics became the primary focus, beginning in major cities and then spreading like a virus to some of the remotest regions of the country. Today, when a person has any type of health issue, they drive or get a ride to a clinic or emergency room and are moved through … well, like cattle. One health issue is addressed and they’re marched in and out as efficiently as possible.
The greater the number of patients, the greater the bills, the greater the income. Somewhere along the way, the personalized approach that offered the best comfort and care became lost. However, some doctors are returning to house calls and this is especially crucial to those men and women who are unable to get out of their house.
As noted by Seth Klamman, in the news blog, Wyoming doctor takes health care into home, published by the Aiken Standard:
“Doctors knocking on doors used to be standard practice. In 1930, “40 percent of patient encounters occurred in the patient’s home,” according to a study by the American Academy of Physicians. By 1950, it was 10 percent, and by 1980, roughly 1 percent of a doctor’s appointments happened in the patient’s house, apartment or green couch.
[Dr. Andy] Dunn says there’s a focus nationally on seeing more patients and his approach – of taking time with patients, such as spending an hour in an apartment – is “very much going away from any type of national trend.”
“My hope is that quality will be more reimbursable than quantity,” he says.”
It’s not just a matter of comfort or convenience that’s driving some medical practitioners to return (at least in part) to this lost art, but a matter of fiscal concern. As the cost of medical care in hospitals and doctors’ offices continues to increase, more providers are realizing the value in direct home care.
For those who may be limited in their mobility, have various ailments or disabilities, keeping them home is a more cost-effective option than nursing homes or other facilities. Still, these men and women require doctor visits, and bringing that directly to their door is helping to save money, but more important, it’s creating relationships and improving the level of care these individuals receive.
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