August 16, 2018
JourneyCare physicians pack their bags, prepare to make house calls
Hospice agency expanding programs to care for seriously-ill homebound patients
Remember when physicians packed their medical bags and made house calls?
That’s why northern Illinois’ premier hospice and palliative care provider is now launching JourneyCare House Calls, an innovative, home-based primary care program that takes health care – even basic laboratory services – directly to the homes of patients living with two or more chronic illnesses and who are either homebound or partially homebound.
The JourneyCare House Calls pilot launched Aug. 1 and is covered by Medicare. The program aims to enhance health outcomes, reduce hospital admissions and emergency department visits, and improve overall patient quality of life, says Mark Grzeskowiak, M.D., vice president of medical services at JourneyCare, which serves 10 counties throughout the Chicago area and northern Illinois.
“There’s tremendous need in the communities we serve,” says Dr. Grzeskowiak. “Our data indicate some 67,000 Medicare patients in JourneyCare’s 10-county service region would qualify for this home-based program because they have limited ability to access health care outside their homes and they suffer from two or more chronic or advanced illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).”
A handful of other organizations in the Chicago area are offering home-based care, but “what is unique about our program is its team approach,” Dr. Grzeskowiak emphasizes. “Ringing a patient’s doorbell will not only be primary care physicians from JourneyCare, but nurses, including an advanced practice nurse, social workers, even chaplains.”
Adding to House Calls’ uniqueness, Dr. Grzeskowiak says, is the team’s ability to deliver basic laboratory services to a patient’s home, including blood draws, urine samples, even X-ray scans and simple EKGs, along with the program’s partnerships with community groups that can help meet patient needs for food, transportation and light housekeeping.
“We are intent on treating the whole patient, going beyond assessing medical issues and medications to include a patient’s psychosocial needs,” Dr. Grzeskowiak states.
For the more tech-savvy of its clients, JourneyCare will offer an app that allows users to access the home-based team via mobile phone or laptop computer.
House Calls represents another step forward in JourneyCare’s advancement as a nationally recognized provider of care for patients with serious illnesses and follows the organization’s recent launch of its Chronic Care Management program and an affiliation with KeepWell ACO (Accountable Care Organization). That affiliation is expected to benefit JourneyCare in terms of increased quality and cost control, support for the organization’s ongoing transformation of health care services and physician participation in Medicare Shared Saving Programs.
“We are no longer simply an organization that offers hospice and palliative care,” says Dr. Grzeskowiak. “Our mission is to do more for patients upstream, attending to them earlier in their disease phase so that we can limit or prevent complications and enhance the quality of their lives. It’s with these goals in mind we are launching our home-based primary care program.”
Because it is a pilot, JourneyCare House Calls will be closely reviewed during a 17-month period, with performance, quality and cost data gathered at the end of six- and 12-month periods.
“We want to ensure the success of this program, that it is doing what it is designed to do on behalf of our patients,” Dr. Grzeskowiak says.