The re-emerging role of the house call in the American healthcare system was the focus of Housecall Providers’ second annual breakfast forum held at the Multnomah Athletic Club on October 20, 2015. The event, which drew nearly 150 attendees, was sponsored by Providence Health and Services.
A four-member panel of experts agreed that the best way to serve this fragile population is in the home. While diagnoses for these individuals vary, from a single condition such as Alzheimer’s disease, chronic heart failure and diabetes, to multiple diagnoses, serving them in place simply leads to better outcomes. The goal of the medical house call is to improve health outcomes, increase patient comfort and reduce health care costs for elderly and homebound patients.
The panelists included Housecall Providers Medical Director, Pamela Miner, MD, led the panel discussion that included Marian Hodges, MD, Medical Director, Geriatrics Program, Providence-Oregon; Will Kennedy, DO, Medical Director, Population Health Partnerships, CareOregon; and Robert Gorsuch, DO, Medical Director, Home Based Primary Care, Rehabilitation & Long Term Care Division, Portland Veteran’s Administration. The panel was moderated by Julia Jung, CPA, President & CEO, Kindred House Calls in Texas, one of the 17 sites participating in the ongoing Independence at Home national Medicare Study.
Dr. Miner discussed the significance of this summer’s release of the Independence at Home first year data. She brought up a major challenge that face home-based medical practices: a skilled a trained workforce. Currently, medical school training doesn’t include curriculum on home-based medicine, she said.
“We lose a couple of practitioners every year to the high stress of travel and the increasing documentation,” Miner said. “A lot of people do have the heart for this work but they don’t know it’s out there.”
Dr. Hodges spoke about Providence’s recent launch this summer of their home-based program called Elders at Home, appropriately titled since it will cater to the frail and elderly. Expectations are that it will save money, but, Dr. Hodges noted, “It’s expensive work. This is our mission and we’re in it for the long haul. This is the work the Sisters of Providence started doing in 1859. We feel this is the work we’ve been called to do.”
The audience had many opportunities to address the panel with questions that ranged from reimbursement rates, to mobile medicine to startup costs for a house call practice.
“The varied topics made for an interesting panel discussion,” said Executive Director Terri Hobbs. “I look forward to Housecall Providers hosting another forum next year to learn more about what other practices across the U.S. are doing.”