Would you believe that some doctors are now making house calls? Alas, it’s only for the chronically ill, actually those with multiple chronic diseases. The Department of Veterans Affairs is leading the way in this new-old idea.
Dr. Bruce Kinosian, associate professor of medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennslyvania in Philadelphia, is the most prominent supporter of the Independence at Home ( IAH) program . He calls on his patients with more than one chronic disease at their homes rather than giving them access only to his office as most of us have.
The program now serves veterans in nearly every state and shows that, on an average, hospital stays dropped by 62 percent and nursing home days by 88 percent in 2002, the latest figures available. Congress included funding for a new demonstration project similar to IAH in their passing of the health care reform law. This will effect only Medicare patients with multiple chronic conditions and is scheduled to begin on January 1, 2012. A study by Johns Hopkins University estimated that 98 percent of Medicare expenditures involve beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions.
The IAH program has been in effect for nearly thirty years at the VA and has been keeping our veterans alive longer, as well as saving taxpayers big money. Now with Dr. Kinosian’s backing and the savings to the Medicare program, we may see this privilege of house calls extended to more of those who desperately need this care and maybe even to some of the rest of us when needed.