And as the population ages, the drain on our healthcare system is only going to get worse.
So to alleviate some of the bloated costs of caring for the chronically ill, we must take some of the burden away off institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes.
One way to do that is to bring back a relic of the past: house calls.
"Years ago, as a family physician in Louisiana, I made house calls," writes Michael Fleming M.D., chief medical officer of Amedisys and past president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
"Certain patients were too sick or too hurt to get to my office. Sometimes a condition or injury had worsened, requiring my evaluation bedside. I would visit patients at home for the simplest of reasons: home was where they needed care," he says.
Here are the things Dr. Fleming suggests:
- Define the discipline better
- Get in sync
- Physician, educate thyself
- Adopt new technologies
- Remove policy obstacles
If doctors (or nurses or aides) visited patients at home on a more regular basis, say, to monitor blood pressure, diet, and activity, there's a great chance that ER visits, hospital stays, and re-admissions would drop.
Click to read more on this point of view at blogs.hbr.org