history of physician house calls
The History of Physician House Calls
June 29, 2017

Physician House Calls Are Making a Comeback

Doctor Examining Senior Homebound Patient

In what seems like an ode to days gone by, doctor visits are making a great comeback.

While house calls have never disappeared completely the medical technology of the 1950s ushered in a new era of modern medicine practiced in hospitals and offices. Swinging back to the 21st-century house calls may appear to be a rare occurrence, but that isn’t necessarily the case.


With the expectation that by the year 2030 there will be 70 million Americans 65 or older, the current long-term care and assisted-living infrastructure may not be able to handle the volume of those needing help. The capacity to care for aging America is not increasing at the same rate as the aging population. One way to combat this issue is with physician house calls. If aging Americans can stay in their own homes while getting excellent care it will reduce the need for assisted living and long-term care facilities to house the maturing.


When patients are homebound due to chronic illness, frailty and physical disabilities it’s difficult for them to get out of the house and safely to a physician’s office. For them, moving on to an assisted living facility or nursing home seems to be their only option.  Dr. Paula Patton, a physician providing house calls for MultiCare Home Health, points to the fact that for some homebound patients taking five steps up some stairs can be like climbing a mountain.


Eliminating the need for these patients to scale the physical difficulties can save hospitals, patients and health care providers money and stress. With physician house calls “Home visits set up a different relationship with the patient,” says Patton. “I find that they are more open and relaxed about their conditions.” Allowing Patton to get to know her patients and their needs better, means they are more likely able to age in place.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than half of adults age 65 and older are up-to-date with preventive services such as screenings for chronic conditions, immunizations, and counseling about personal health behaviors. What the study shows is that by expanding access to home visits, thanks to services like Multicare Home Health, the aging population will be empowered to live healthier lives.


In 2014, the American Geriatrics Society published a study that found home-based primary care lowered medical costs. In addition, the study found that home-based care lowered emergency room visits and hospitalization. The study, along with numerous other studies, is showing the advantages house calls have on patients, it’s keeping them out of hospitals and nursing homes.


Plus, homebound patients receiving physician house calls tend to experience less cognitive decline and have lower mortality risk than those who frequent an outside clinic. “Physicians who make house calls can address the issues that impact the health of the older adult,” says Patton.  “At home, I can see how the patient is living.  Do they have food, heat and help from others?”


With services like MultiCare Home Health and Dr. Patton, it shows that in our current world medicine for the homebound can take the personal touch of old-fashioned house calls and reintroduce that care with a modern twist. By providing accurate, modern medicine directly to the patient in their home, the MultiCare approach is patient-centered and one that allows the homebound to age in place gracefully.



  1. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2013) The State of Aging and Health in America 2013. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/features/agingandhealth/state_of_aging_and_health_in_america_2013.pdf
  2. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2015). Affordable Care Act payment model saves more than $25 million in first performance year [Press Release]. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2015-Press-releases-items/2015-06-18.html
  3. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2012). CDC Focuses on Need for Older Adults To Receive Clinical Preventive Services [Brief]. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/cps-clinical-preventive-services.pdf
  4. Eric De Jonge MD, Namirah Jamshed MBBS, Daniel Gilden MS, Joanna Kubisiak MPH, Stephanie R. Bruce MD and George Taler MD. Effects of Home-Based Primary Care on Medicare Costs in High-Risk Elders. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, Volume 62, Issue 10, pages 1825-1831, October 2014.

1 Comment

  1. Jane Ambrose says:

    My dad, who is growing decently old in age, asked me the other day what I thought about him turning to house calls for medical attention every once and a while. Before reading this, I had no idea that that house calls could reduce medical costs, and admission into the emergency room. It seems like a great way for people to get the care they need while not risking their health to get it. I’ll be sure to share this information with my dad!

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