By 2030, the United States will have more 65-and-older residents than children. The 80-and-older population is growing the fastest and is more likely to be homebound or home-limited. Additionally, with women as the primary medical decision-makers for most families, being homebound adds another barrier to accessing care as they juggle responsibilities for their elderly parents.
Approximately two million older adults are completely homebound and another 5.5 million are partially homebound. Homebound and partially homebound means the adult is unable to leave the home, has difficulty leaving, or needs help to get out of their home. If your aging loved one has difficulties getting out of the house, home-based medical care is an ideal alternative for getting to doctors’ offices and other medical appointments.
Bringing Back the “House Call”
Mobile medical service providers are bringing back the model of having the primary care provider visit the patient at home. Medical providers are showing up at patients’ homes with their smartphone and an iPad, often providing more thorough and efficient care than can be found at a medical provider’s office. Mobile providers can order blood and lab tests to be done in the home as well as portable x-rays and ultrasounds which eliminates additional appointments from the patient’s – and primary caregiver’s – schedule.
What’s the Difference Between Home-based Medical Care and Home Health Care?
Home health care is an intermittent service that can be provided following a medical event, such as a hospitalization. Home health care services are limited in duration and can include nursing, physical, occupational, and speech therapies. The patient must have a Medicare-skilled need and a licensed provider to order the services.
Home-based primary care is a long-term solution for care at home. Mobile medical providers can order home health care for their homebound or home-limited patients. But they also continue to provide routine follow-up visits to help the patient achieve wellness goals and maximize prevention strategies. Home-based primary care is with you as long as you want their services.
6 Benefits of Home-based Primary Care
- Increased access to care
- Better understanding of a patient’s environment
- Decreased hospitalization and urgent care use
- Potential to prevent or slow cognitive decline
- Better support for family caregivers
- Increased satisfaction of patients and providers
1. Traveling to an office can be difficult.
Whether it is difficult for the caregiver or the patient, there are some situations where patients should not or cannot travel to medical offices. In some cases, the physical exertion required can be too much. And if the patient is already sick, is sitting in a waiting room with other frail seniors an appealing idea?
Mobile medical care offers a solution for both patient and caregiver. Appointments are made for the provider to come to the home to see the patient which eliminates the need for the patient to go out. And the caregiver can participate without taking the extra time (and energy) to allow for transportation and getting the patient in and out of the doctor’s office.
2. A person’s home can be a window to better outcomes.
When a mobile medical provider can see the patient in their home environment, they are better able to understand the obstacles the patient faces on a daily basis. When a provider sees where a patient lives, they can improve care and ultimately improve the outcomes. Being there allows them to identify needs the senior or their caregiver may not have recognized as being a barrier to safety and care.
A home-based primary care provider sees more than just the patient when in the home. They observe the rooms the patient lives in and can identify issues that a caregiver or senior may not have noticed. Has the patient had a couple of falls in the past few weeks? An in-home visit may reveal that the patient has throw rugs – the arch enemy of a senior with a walker or shuffling gait!
3. Fewer hospitalizations or urgent care visits are needed with home-based medical care.
The purpose of home-based medical care is not to react to acute incidents or crisis care. A mobile medical provider sees their patients on a regular basis, following a custom plan of care and maximizing prevention strategies. Keeping the patient as healthy as possible is their mission.
By utilizing mobile medical primary care, the patient has access to labs and diagnostics like x-rays and ultrasounds without leaving the home. Mobile providers are able to respond and diagnose, many times without requiring the patient to leave the comfort of their home when they aren’t feeling well. Data shows a statistically significant lower hospital utilization for folks who had access to home-based primary care.
4. Staying home for provider visits can help with functional and cognitive decline.
If mobility is a challenge, fear of falling can be high. Falling once doubles your chances of falling again. Family members caring for frail elderly parents are acutely aware of these facts and would prefer to limit outings to unfamiliar locations. Individuals with cognitive decline can become more agitated when leaving a familiar setting like their home, making it harder for the provider to be effective in an office setting.
Home-based medical providers eliminate the need to leave the home to receive care. While this doesn’t eliminate the possibility of a fall or cognitive decline, the provider understands that these are very real concerns and can include prevention techniques in their plan of care. A care provider is familiar with risk factors and helps the patient evaluate their environment to see what can be changed or modified to prevent decline.
5. Home-based care provides welcome relief for family caregivers.
Women play a crucial role in medical decision-making for family members. Many times, it is the adult daughter or daughter-in-law who assumes the role of caregiver for aging parents. Often, they are caregiving for elderly parents or in-laws while taking care of children, adult children, or grandchildren of their own. Caregivers, imagine a day with one less medical appointment to get to and a simple home visit to resolve any health issues causing concern!
That sound you just heard was a collective sigh of relief from family caregivers who are exhausted from transporting aging loved ones to offices all over town. Mobile medical care reduces the burden on the caregiver and provides an extra layer of support by being a member of their loved one’s circle of concern. Being engaged and informed about a loved one’s care is essential to relieving the burden experienced by so many caregivers.
6. A home-based primary care provider is a win-win.
Patients and providers both benefit from the home-based medical model. Patients feel more comfortable communicating with a provider who visits them in their homes. Aging seniors appreciate a less formal experience and having a provider that takes the time to talk to them.
What Patients and Caregivers Like About Home-based Medical Care
Lower hospitalization rates
Primary care providers have increased satisfaction when seeing patients in their homes because it allows them to form deeper connections. When a senior connects with their provider, they are more likely to confide in them regarding any challenges they are experiencing. Home-care providers can do a better job by gaining a more holistic understanding of the patient’s health and day-to-day environment.
What Happens to My Primary Care Provider When I Move to Senior Living?
Add another win to win-win! If a senior moves to a senior living community, their home-based primary care provider can continue to see them. Their home environment may have changed, but the continuity of care and trust they have developed with their provider does not.
Primary care providers serving homebound or home-limited patients see them in a variety of settings. Those settings may include:
Primary Care Home-based Service Settings
Memory care facilities
Assisted living facilities
Independent living facilities
Senior Communities including 55+
How Do I Find a Home-based Care Provider?
There are several ways to find a home-based care provider. If you have a restrictive insurance plan, you may want to start by obtaining a list of approved providers for your area. You can also search for an individual or group practice on Medicare.gov.
Mobile Medical Services is a Resource We Love because its mission is to help keep seniors successful wherever they live. The benefits of having a home-based care provider go beyond the positive statistics and well-researched outcomes. It is all about the senior and their family caregiver being seen, being heard, and having a medical provider that works with them to improve quality of life. Read more about resources that are available for seniors in the Resources Section of our Blog.