Are House Calls Still a Thing of the Past?

Posted:August 19, 2016

You might not have heard of the CMS Innovation Center. This branch of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services tests new payment and service delivery models, in an effort to improve the quality of care Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries receive. However, one of the Innovation Center’s current projects actually involves a throwback. The “Independence at Home” experiment is testing the feasibility of house calls in 2016.

Doctors traveling to their sick patients’ homes was a common practice decades ago. The healthcare industry has changed a lot since then, so Independence at Home faces unique contemporary challenges. Today it’s more complicated than arriving at someone’s door carrying a big black bag.

As reported by Kaiser Health News in USA Today, “under the law creating the program, practices could join only if they make house calls to at least 200 patients with traditional Medicare who have been hospitalized and received rehab or other home health care within the past year.” These guidelines may prevent small, independent practices from participating in Independence at Home, but more and more primary care doctors today are joining large integrated health systems – large organizations that usually aren’t associated with house calls.