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Medical house calls resurging in popularity

October 11, 2018

JourneyCare executive on national panel to advocate for house calls

As World Hospice and Palliative Care Day approaches on Saturday, October 13, clinical leaders at JourneyCare – an Illinois healthcare agency serving 10 counties of the Chicago region – are advocating reaching patients with advancing illness sooner through innovative programs like home-based primary care.

JourneyCare Chief Operating Officer and Registered Nurse Kelly Fischer was part of an elite panel of clinicians presenting on home-based primary care (commonly known as house calls) this week at the Fifth Annual National Summit on Advanced Illness Care in Denver. The summit was presented October 9-11 by The Coalition to Transform Advanced Care.

Fischer’s panel, “The Exam Table of the Future Has Throw Pillows: The Resurgence of the House Call,” explored why home-based primary care is a medical model whose time has come once again, after fading from widespread use decades ago. Fischer and her fellow clinicians also detailed how house calls programs can be built or improved in a strategic manner.

“There’s tremendous need in the communities we serve locally,” says Fischer. “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).”

The panel at the Denver summit also featured Jessica Bylander, Senior Editor of Health Affairs; Thomas Cornwell, MD, CEO of the Home Centered Care Institute and the agency’s Vice President Tracy Hulett; and Eric de Jonge, MD, Executive Director of MedStar House Call Program.

Fischer brings valuable expertise to the panel, since JourneyCare launched JourneyCare House Calls this summer to bring health care – even basic laboratory services – directly to the homes of Medicare patients living with two or more chronic illnesses and who are either homebound or partially homebound.

The program aims to enhance health outcomes, reduce hospital admissions and emergency department visits, and improve overall patient quality of life, says Fischer.

“As World Hospice and Palliative Care Day approaches, we recommit to our 40 years of leadership in these care models, while simultaneously expanding our mission to do more for patients upstream. We want to attend to them earlier in their disease phase so that we can limit or prevent complications and enhance the quality of their lives,” Fischer says. “It’s with these goals in mind we launched our home-based primary care program.”