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Case and UHC researchers find house calls on the rise

An analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that house calls to Medicare beneficiaries have increased by over 40 percent from 1998 to 2004 and that total charges for house calls more than doubled over this same time period. More than 2 million house calls were charged to Medicare in 2004.

Though the reasons for this increase are not part of the analysis, the authors believe that changes in Medicare payment of physicians for house calls and advances in portable medical devices and information technology are fueling this trend. Steven Landers, M.D., from the Department of Family Medicine at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland, the lead author of the analysis, explains, “This growth reverses a trend reported in the 1990s that house calls were ‘vanishing.’ House calls may become an important part of how the health care system addresses the needs of an aging population.”

Landers, a 2003 graduate of the Case School of Medicine, recently finished his training in family medicine and now directs the new House Call Program within the Department of Family Medicine. This program provides ongoing in home medical care to patients from predominately low income neighborhoods in Cleveland.

He said, “When I started medical school I thought that house calls were a thing of the past, but now house calls are the focal point of my practice…most of my patients are elderly and disabled and they struggle to get into traditional medical offices, I bring the office to them. And, by visiting their homes I learn a lot more about their condition and family, this leads to better care.”

The analysis showed that most of the growth in House Calls has come from primary care physicians and nurse practitioners. In line with these national trends, the Case/University Hospitals of Cleveland House Call Program has both physicians and nurse practitioners.

Other authors on the study Paul W. Gunn, Susan A. Flocke, Ph.D., Antonnette V. Graham, Ph.D., George E. Kikano, M.D., Shirley M. Moore, R.N., Ph.D., and Kurt C. Stange, M.D., Ph.D.

 

About Case Western Reserve University

Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work. http://www.case.edu.