In-home nursing care has been available for decades to those unable to make the journey to their doctor’s office or clinic for daily or weekly care. Medication prepackaging, dressing changes, or follow-up visits after surgery, to help doctors manage chronic or acute illness, and end-of-life care are all services available to homebound patients by a registered nurse. A house call from your doctor was common before the 1950s but had become increasingly rare since that time. This is changing as more and more house calls are made by doctors and other advanced healthcare practitioners. These visits are expected to continue to expand in the future.
Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance companies have increased their reimbursement to include home visits by healthcare practitioners offering financial incentives, and in some cases requiring these real-time assessments before homecare companies are paid for the care delivered. Face-to-face doctor, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner visits for assessments and re-certification of needs, help at-home patients manage their care when they are unable to travel to and from the office.
For years, doctors relied on the visiting nurse to be their eyes and ears when it came to assessing homebound patients. The nurse gathered information and made their own determination about patients needs, and physical or emotional wellness, and conveyed the patient’s needs to the doctor as objectively as possible. The doctor or healthcare practitioner made decisions for the patient based on the information presented. But nurses aren’t doctors. Best practice means that the most effective and most practical treatment options are ordered based on a real-time evaluation of the patient.
Putting Patient Needs First
There are many business and personal rewards for healthcare practitioners who put the patient’s needs first.
- Saving patients and their families the pain, exhaustion, and expense of specialized travel just for a checkup or medication refill builds strong bonds between the patient and the caregiver.
- Ensuring that the standards for best practices are met, by seeing the patient in person to evaluate their care needs, builds trust between patients, doctors, and families.
- Home visits reduce in-office care costs and offer financial incentives for doctors and other healthcare practitioners to see the patient at home.
- Patients receive timely care, reducing the number of visits to the emergency room or hospital, and in turn, increasing the pay rates for doctors and other healthcare practitioners who choose to visit the patient at home.
As patient-centered healthcare continues to evolve, we will all reap the benefits of individualized care tailored to our specific needs. Building trustworthy, cost-effective, and readily available healthcare that meets the standards of best practice means that you benefit, your family benefits, and your doctor benefits. Watch for a future article on healthcare best practices, so that you will know what to expect from your doctor, as well as other healthcare practitioners, in terms of your short-term and long-term medical care.
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