The Return of At-Home Doctor’s Visits

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Why, it’s your doctor!concierge-medicine-overall-health

Believe it or not, the at-home doctor’s visit is not only returning, but the industry appears to be growing. In a world where patients spend more time in a waiting room than they do in front of the doctor, the in-home care model is a breath of fresh air. So why is the trend gaining traction? To understand the present, we need to look at the past.


Watch any black-and-white movie and you’ll see physicians caring for a patient who is enjoying the comfort or his or her own bed. The Clinics in Geriatric Medicine journal estimates that in the 1930s, house calls accounted for roughly 40 percent of all physician-patient encounters. However, that number dropped to 10 percent by the 1950s and practically vanished entirely during the 1980s.

The journal cites several reasons that house calls started to fade, such as:

  • Improvements in technology: Facilities received new tools for diagnosing and treating illnesses. This got people out of their homes and into an office.
  • Insurance coverage: Private insurance bucked house calls from policies, making the house call too expensive for many.
  • Financial incentives: Physicians could see twice the number of patients in an office setting as they could traveling from home to home.

As Clinics in Geriatric Medicine points out, other countries have sustained home visits because these constraints are not present. For example, in Britain, which has subsidized health care, doctors make up to 10 times more house calls than physicians in the United States do.

However, house calls now are making a comeback in this country, as those limiting factors are slowly disappearing.

Medicare Resuscitates the House Call

Medicare amended its billing procedures in 1998, allowing for physicians to bill for home visits. A study from The National Institutes of Health note that doctors made roughly 478,000 house calls to Medicare beneficiaries in 2000 and more than twice that – 995,294 – in 2006.

The NIH study also found that as the number of in-home care visits rose, the number of doctors providing them declined. In other words, a smaller number of doctors took on a larger number of home visits. The findings indicate that the doctors who made home visits tended to be in solo practices.

Money and Technology

But can Medicare changes take all the credit for the rise in home visits? Of course not. Research has shown that the practice is actually cost-effective. Take, for example, an older man who is homebound due to a disability. He can continue to receive necessary check-ups without the hassle – and sometimes, risky exposure – of going to a hospital or doctor’s office, which can cause costly complications.

The very nature of an in-home visit has changed dramatically since the time it was last popular decades ago. For example, the little black bag a physician would carry into a 1950s perhaps held a few basic tools. Today’s black bag is equipped with a smartphone, portable lab kit, IV medications and even an EKG machine. In other words, physicians can essentially bring the hospital to the patient.

From the Doctor’s Perspective

The increase in house calls illustrates that physicians are seeing the benefit to providing patients with more personalized care. Instead of a patient getting rotated through a practice and seeing whichever doctor is available for a same-day or next-day appointment, house calls enable a one-on-one relationship between doctor and patient, which can reduce common mistakes attributed to medical records getting bounced from office to office.

Additionally, a home visit allows a physician to see the environment in which a patient lives. That kind of insight permits a doctor to provide even more comprehensive care, as he or she may be able to identify unhealthy living situations that should be addressed.

Private medicine, which has been around since the 1990s, includes this kind of personalized care into their practices. With longer, more attentive patient visits in a secure environment, home visits may well be both the past and future of medicine.

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Want Comprehensive Care? Seek a Private Physician

dv2062025Preserving your overall wellbeing entails much more than simply keeping germs out of your body. What you eat, how much you exercise, your stress levels and your living environment all play an important role in your physical health. Private physicians have a keen insight into all these pieces of your life because they work much more closely with you than a traditional practice would. Here are five ways private medicine has an all-inclusive approach to your health.

1. Non-Episodic Care

In general, a fee-for-service physician often only sees patients when something is wrong. While this is good for treating illnesses, it does not do much in the way of preventing disease or maintaining health.

A private physician, on the other hand, tends to have a much a closer relationship with patients. The point of private medicine is to give people an attentive doctor. Many offer annual physicals to discuss any concerns that a patient might have. Additionally, these exams can help a doctor spot any warning signs and catch an illness in its early stages, which can prevent further complications down the road.

2. Coordinating Treatment

A primary care physician simply is not equipped to handle all the medical requirements a patient may have, which is why referrals to specialists are often a necessary part of treatment. In a fee-for-service structure, your doctor will typically give you the number of someone to call and fax over your records.

While this has been the practice for years, it can leave the door open for error. Medical records could get lost or confused in the transition, which can result in devastating mistakes. The Journal of Patient Safety estimates that medical errors related to a patient’s record account for as many as 400,000 deaths every year.

A private physician will take the time to coordinate the visit with a specialist. Many will personally set up appointments or discuss your background with other doctors to ensure that you get the care that you need. Your doctor understands your needs and can ensure you receive the best possible treatment.

3. Longer Patient Visits

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Care reports that physicians in a traditional practice could have upward of 2,000. That results in very quick doctor visits that average about 15 minutes, which is just enough time to hear your symptoms, diagnose the problem and write a prescription.

On average, private doctors may only have a few hundred patients to care for, which means they are able to spend more time with each person. Instead of simply ticking off your symptoms, you are able to discuss other factors that could be contributing to how you feel, such as your diet, sleep and exercise patterns.

4. Home Visits

While not all private physicians will make house calls, many will. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, home visits for Medicare beneficiaries alone more than doubled from 2000 to 2006 and continue to rise.

The benefit here is that a doctor who is in your home gets a chance to see how you live. The quality of your indoor air, the presence of pets and the cleanliness of a home will all contribute to your health. A physician who gets this kind of intimate look into the life of a patient will have a better understanding of the person’s life on a day-to-day basis and make adjustments or suggestions accordingly.

5. Effective Health Management

It is imperative to build a relationship with a healthcare provider, especially when it comes to patients who have chronic illnesses. Seeing the same doctor over and over instead of getting rotated through a practice gives a physician a first-hand account of a patient’s medical history, including how the person responds to certain medications and preferences for different types of treatments.

Patients who are looking for a doctor who caters to the big picture of their wellbeing by incorporating all the small details involved in health should seek the help of a private physician. Fewer patients, longer visits and house calls all result in a more complete kind of medical care.

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Five Tips for Building an Effective Social Media Presence for Your Private Medical Practice

An estimated 25% of the world’s population used social media websites in 2013, with the majority of that social-media-logospercentage being daily users. While the “social” in social media may be misleading to some, make no mistake about it—social media is one of the most powerful business marketing and communication tools available. The following five tips will help any healthcare business build a rewarding online presence:

Keep it Natural, Friendly, and Entertaining

Few things turn social media users off faster than businesses that do little more than post advertisements. Your social media pages should be about developing a community, one that reflects what is special about private medicine, your employees, your services, and your patients. Accomplishing this may involve sharing interesting information, photographs, videos, and other content that reflects personality and engages users. Your home page should always include basic info such as name, location, type of business and contact info in an easy to see yet unassuming manner.

Make Your Presence Communication Friendly

A social media page should never be used as the primary method of patient inquiries, trouble shooting, or other strictly business related communications. However, your social media pages should offer current and potential private medicine patients the ability to ask questions and hold discussions with both employees and current patients in a casual manner. Creating an on page dialogue between your private medical practice and users, highlights the communal, friendly aspect of your practice, as well as provides vital patient feedback.

Your Social Media Pages Need to be Referral Friendly

Social media is increasingly becoming one of the most popular methods for those seeking referrals for goods and services. A social media user is far more likely to follow personal referrals from friends and family when compared to a simple web or phonebook search. Providing interesting and entertaining content will encourage your followers to re-post or share the content, further building trust and referral opportunities

Highlight Special Events and Promotions

Social media is perhaps the most cost-effective way to advertise promotions and sales, provided you don’t overdo it. Your followers will appreciate this information, but posting it too frequently will take away from the all important personality of your online presence. Aim to only share special events and sales that are truly special and likely to attract patients’ attention.

Don’t Abandon Other Advertising and Marketing Practices

While social media has quickly become one of the most powerful tools, an effective marketing and advertising campaign still requires a multi-faceted approach. Print advertising, email campaigns, and other traditional tools remain effective and help further build your business’s social media follower base. Be sure to include the names and addresses of your social media pages on business cards, flyers, and other printed material whenever possible.

Building and maintaining a solid social media presence doesn’t require a lot of time or money, nor does it require any advanced training or skill set. Following the five tips listed above will help build your social media pages to encourage dialogue, spread vital information, and create a community of current and future patients. Best of all—it is fun!


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Develop a Plan to Invest in Your Health

Do you have a solid investment strategy in place? No, not the kind of investment strategy where you save money for a new home, new car, retirement, etc.—the kind of strategy where you are investing in your own personal health. Just like any other investment, the good habits you build right now in your life will give you an amazing return on investment (ROI) later in life. Here are the top five reasons your health should be a priority.

1: Lower Your Risk for Disease21513009_blog

Many of the leading causes of death in the United States today are preventable diseases—things like heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Concierge doctors and other primary care provider know that patients who take time to practice healthy habits can actually reduce or reverse their chance of developing these deadly diseases—even if they start out in an unhealthy place. The key to lowering your risk for these problems is to invest some time and energy into healthier habits every day, such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy eating
  • Stress reduction
  • Adequate sleep
  • Annual physical examinations and preventive care

When you’re practicing healthy habits, studies have shown that you lower your risk for a wide range of health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, cancer, arthritis, and more.

2: Be Happy

Healthy lifestyles help with more than just controlling weight—they also help improve mood and make you feel happier. Being sick and tired all the time is stressful and taxing on your body, a situation that many private physicians know can lead to depression, anxiety, and other ailments. Regular exercise has been shown to increase endorphins in your brain and your body, which lifts your mood and helps you feel more relaxed. Plus the confidence you gain from feeling healthy and maintaining a healthy weight can make you feel more comfortable in your day-to-day activities.

3: Spot Potential Risks Early

When it comes to preventable or chronic diseases, there are often warning signs that might indicate someone is at risk. Part of living a healthy lifestyle includes going for regular check-ups with your primary care doctor, such as an annual physical, blood work, and screenings. Patients who see concierge physicians often get the added benefit of “executive-level” annual physicals, which can last up to an hour and include a comprehensive health review, lab tests, screenings, and consultation with your private physician. By investing the time to get these tests you can identify warning signs early that will help you control potential health problems before they become serious and chronic conditions.

4: Increase Energy Levels

Eating an unhealthy diet (filled with processed foods, and food high in sugar and fat) and living a sedentary lifestyle often results in a lack the energy to do the things you want to do. Making a small investment of time every day to cook healthy meals and exercise for about 30 minutes can pay dividends in increased energy levels. Eating well and exercising regularly also helps you sleep better, which can provide you with even more energy every day.

5: Live a Longer, Healthier Life

One of the biggest benefits of healthy habits is improved longevity. Think about it—you probably spend a lot of time planning and saving for retirement. These financial investments won’t be worth much if you are unable to appreciate your retirement years because you are always sick, you have to spend most of your savings on medical treatment, or because you don’t live long enough to enjoy it. If you spend as much time planning for and investing in your health as you do for your financial future, you have a much higher chance of living long enough to truly know the meaning of the “golden years.”

The key to investing in your health is developing good habits and consistently following through with your plans day after day, and year after year. Just like monetary investments, it requires time, discipline, and dedication, but eventually the ROI comes in the form of better health, increased lifespan, and improved overall happiness.

Find a private physician near you to discuss how you can invest in your health!

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How Technology is Advancing Patient Care


- High-tech tracking devices that send information directly from a patient to a physician.

- Virtual visits with a physician through teleconference technology.

- Smartphone apps that reduce long office wait times.

Is this the stuff of healthcare science fiction? It may seem like it, but the surge in Telehealth and an ever-increasing reliance on technology in our daily lives means that the switch to a more tech-driven healthcare future is probably not far off. In fact, Software Advice, a medical technology review firm, uncovered that many leaders in the healthcare industry are predicting that there will be some big changes within the next decade, and it’s important to know how it might impact concierge medicine.

The Shift in Patient Care

Advances in technology and research have improved medical care by providing better and more efficient patient treatments. However, the delivery of care has remained virtually unchanged for decades—patients schedule appointments, visit the office, manually fill out paperwork, discuss symptoms and other issues with the doctor, and then receive a diagnosis. Many primary care physicians are now looking at ways technology can improve this patient experience.

Gathering Information from Tracking Devices

Doctors-Will-Rely-On-WearablesThe market for “wearable tracking devices” (Nike FuelBand, FitBit, Jawbone) has gained momentum over the last couple of years. As this technology gains wider adoption and becomes more accurate, many people are looking for ways to use it beyond counting steps and calories. A survey by AnswerLab in March 2014 showed that 86 percent of respondents believe wearable technology will gain “mainstream adoption” in 1-3 years. About 85 percent of survey respondents saw the medical field as the industry where “wearables” could have the biggest impact outside of fitness.

These devices allow doctors to review heart rate, daily activity and exercise levels, blood pressure, and even sleep patterns for additional insight into patients’ lives. This could be especially useful for patients who are unaware they have a problem, and ignore warning signs until it becomes a severe health issue before seeking treatment.

Physicians can also aggregate the data from several patients to aid in researching the efficacy of drugs and treatments for specific conditions, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. Since concierge physicians aim to provide a higher level of care, this advancement could help developing better treatment for overall wellness.

Reducing Waiting Times

Another prediction for the future of healthcare is a reduction in wait times through the use of smartphone apps, online records and check-in, and quick diagnostic screenings before the patient gets into the exam room that maximize time spent with the doctor. For most concierge physicians a future with reduced wait times is already here, but offering things like online check-in and smartphone apps that alert the physician’s office to the patient’s arrival can streamline concierge office visits.

The Rise of Telehealth

Telehealth (telemedicine) has been on the rise in rural communities for several years, offering a chance for patients to see doctors even if the nearest provider is several hundred miles away. As this technology becomes more viable, many believe it can be useful for routine check-ups.

Concierge physicians are already ahead of this curve, connecting with patients and answering questions through email, phone calls, and online. While a phone call is not a substitute for the comprehensive annual check-ups, telemedicine can offer solutions for quick check-ups, minor ailments, and prescription renewals. Telehealth can be especially beneficial when combined with other emerging technologies—such as wearable tracking devices—so doctors can “see” what’s going on with a patient without “seeing” the patient in person.

Comprehensive Medical Records

Many patients today want to have more control over the care they receive, but notes from the physician tend to be brief (for practical data input purposes) and may not capture everything a patient is experiencing. New technology could allow patients to input information prior to an appointment, which the doctor can use to ask relevant questions, add notes, and chart appropriate care.

Concierge physicians often place greater emphasis on the partnership between care provider and patient, making this technological advancement a natural fit. This gives the physician an idea of what the patient is experiencing (in his or her own words) and allows for more time during appointments to find solutions rather than collect data and take notes.

Advancing Care Through Technology

As technological advances hit the market it’s important for physicians to examine the ways they can provide a higher level of care. Listening to patients’ needs and being open to changes can contribute to improved healthcare for patients and providers alike.




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