Could the House Call Make a Comeback? CareMore Health Survey Findings Say "Yes"

January 14, 2020

US Census data show the segment of the population over age 65 is growing faster than the group under age 65, highlighting the need for new healthcare delivery solutions.

Survey findings from CareMore Health suggest that the house call, first common nearly a century ago, could offer a way for the very ill to get care they need—with less stress for the patient.

The survey of 2009 adults, conducted by The Harris Poll for CareMore Health and Aspire Health, offers insights into the potential benefits of in-home care for the chronically ill, while pinpointing barriers that keep people from getting care they need, according to information on the poll provided to The American Journal of Managed Care®.

Findings show 64% of adults (23 years and older) expressed interest in a house call, defined as a team of healthcare professionals traveling to a home-bound or chronically ill patient’s home or care facility for “medical care, consultations, and social services, for both regular checkups and non-emergency care situations.” The selling points for the respondents were convenience (58%) and personal attention (42%).

The survey, taken between September 26, 2019, and October 11, 2019, included respondents who were about evenly divided between those younger than 65 (1000) and older than 65 (1009). These included 187 people with a chronic condition, including cancer, dementia, Alzheimer disease, or heart failure and 122 caregivers. However, US Census data show that the segment of the population age 65 and older is now growing faster than the group under 65, and the group growing fastest are those older than 85—the very old, who have the greatest caregiving needs.

Quality a top concern

Of note, 92% of survey respondents said the quality of care at a house call would be better (34%) or equal (58%) to the quality of care at a physician’s office or clinic. The majority (87%) of respondents said they want their healthcare provider to treat them or the person they care for like a member of the family.

Several takeaways from the survey suggest a house call would be less taxing for chronically ill patients, with 79% of respondents saying that people would be better able to manage their care if they could see providers in their own home, and 44% specifically saying the home environment would create less stress than an office visit.

For the provider, the home visit might reveal issues such as lack of food, poor air quality, or other issues that are contributing to health problems—and 64% agreed that a home visit would offer this advantage. CareMore Health had pioneered an initiative to address loneliness among seniors that has uncovered these problems during home visits.

Other findings show that 42% believe house calls allow for more personal attention, 44% believe that patients would be more likely to follow a provider’s advice, and 43% say they would be more likely to take medication as prescribed if care were given at home.

Prakash Patel, MD, executive vice president of Diversified Business Group at Anthem, Inc., which includes CareMore Health and Aspire Health, said in the group’s statement that the survey results confirm a belief that patients and caregivers want and need more personalized and convenient care. “It’s clear an evolution of our care delivery models is required, and we are meeting this need by building an integrated set of offerings to support the whole person,” he said.