Doctors do make house calls in this day and age - and it's saving money

Doctors do make house calls in this day and age - and it's saving money »Play Video

Doctors making house calls?  It's not a practice of a bygone era, but instead a current movement.  The Problem Solvers show you how it's not only improving care but also saving money.

Dale Allen is 89 years old.  A lifetime runner, he's having a hard time hanging up his shoes.

"I can't go out and walk any long distance, because I'll pass out,"  says Allen disappointedly.

Allen can no longer drive either,  making it difficult to get to his doctor. 

But now his new medical care provider comes to him with her black bag in tow.

"It was a relief to have something I didn't have to worry about anymore,"  says Allen.

"I get to see where they live, how they interact, what they eat, who they live with, who they're being taken care of by," explains Helen Zeon, a nurse practitioner with Housecall Providers, a non-profit organization.  "I think that's a great benefit."

Housecall Providers focuses on primary care for homebound patients - both seniors and those suffering from chronic illnesses, making trips to the emergency room less necessary.

"If you are giving them better care, and you are keeping them out of the hospital, and you are treating them in their homes, which is best, it really could save millions, if not up into the billions," says Terri Hobbs, Executive Director of Housecall Providers in Portland.

The average cost of a homebound patient's care is about $27,000 a year.  Once house calls start, that cost drops to $7000, according to Hobbs.
    
With today's technology, Zeon can make referrals, order tests and manage medications all from Allen's couch.  She can also conduct a full examine.

Allen insists he has more confidence in Zeon than the doctors he used to see in their offices.

Housecall Providers is currently part of a 3-year federal demonstration project to show that the house call model could save Medicare millions of dollars.