House calls: Is there a doctor in the house? In NJ, there likely can be
Getting a home visit from the doctor sounds like a scene out of a classic television program.
But with an aging Baby Boomer population — the youngest being 55 years old or so — and younger generations super focused on convenience, the "house call" is making a comeback in the Garden State.
"It's booming in New Jersey," said Daniel Medina, market director for DispatchHealth, an on-demand healthcare company that teamed up in June with Valley Health System to deliver urgent care to North Jersey residents in the comfort of their homes.
More than 200 patients had already utilized the service within two months of the partnership's launch.
"Our two-person team can treat patients as young as 3 months old, and our eldest has been 108 years old," said Medina, noting house calls are convenient for parents who wish to avoid shipping their sick children to a doctor's office for care.
"They're equipped to handle dehydration, vomiting, urinary tract infections, the flu, strep, different sprains or lacerations," Medina said of the medical team. "They can stitch, staple or suture in the home."
On-hand kits also allow professionals to administer blood tests, IV fluids, and EKGs.
Once a request is made, a team arrives at the patient's place of need within a few hours, the company said.
Typically intended for elderly, disabled or housebound patients, house calls are still an option offered by some individual medical practices. As the benefits are realized by patients' families and the healthcare system itself, more practices are coming on board.
"If you can deliver care that keeps someone from accessing the emergency room or becoming a patient at the hospital, the whole system's going to save a whole bunch of money," said Larry Downs, CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey.
And while telemedicine takes off, giving medical professionals and patients the opportunity to see each other virtually, there are some medical conditions and cases that require a hands-on approach, Downs said.
While commonly associated with family medicine, the use of house calls, or "home care," is becoming a bigger piece of the business model for wound care physicians, Downs added.
"While telemedicine's a great extender, it's not right for every clinical encounter," Downs said. "And more and more physicians have the ability to see patients in the home."
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.