The Doctor Will See You Now – In Your Own Home
COVID-19 has added many new and frustrating challenges to the lives of older adults. However, a few silver linings have emerged, one of which is an increasing comfort level with products and services that are delivered directly to our homes and the personal safety that such delivery options afford.
Welcome Health, a Los Angeles-based primary care medical group, specializes in care for older people and believes that medical care should be delivered to your door. Dr. Deena Goldwater, a cardiologist and geriatrician with Welcome Health and Vice President of Care Delivery said, “We believe that the best way to give older adults the medical care they deserve is to provide outstanding, accessible, and convenient primary care in patients’ own homes. Welcome Health has brought back the house call.”
People might remember doctors making house calls “back in the day.” In fact, by the 1930s, doctors performed almost half of patient visits in people’s homes. By the end of the 20th century, that number decreased to less than 1%. Even today, people assume they must travel far for good medical care. People spend, on average, more than 30 minutes traveling to a doctor, not including wait times and other inconveniences or costs.
For many seniors, traveling to see a physician is challenging. Mobility limitations, visual impairment, consequences of chronic illness, and fear of getting sick prevent many older adults from seeing their primary care doctor. Goldwater explained that Welcome Health eases many of these challenges by bringing healthcare to the patients. “No longer do patients need to coordinate transportation, wait in crowded waiting rooms, or struggle getting to the right location.”
With Welcome Health, a clinician will come to provide medical care to a patient as often as is needed. Furthermore, patients can now have many diagnostic tests, including blood draws, x-rays, ultrasounds, and even electrocardiograms, done in their homes.
Dr. Mike Wang, a geriatrician and Vice President of Clinical Affairs at Welcome Health, explained that house calls can benefit caregivers and family members of patients, too. “Caring for older people with chronic illnesses or mobility issues can lead to significant caregiver stress. Knowing that a clinician will come to the house to check on your loved one can provide an immense feeling of relief.” It’s also a time-saver, Wang continued. “When the doctor comes to the home, you don’t have to take time off from work to drive mom or dad to the doctor’s office, wait with them in the waiting room, see the doctor and eventually drive home.”
Another benefit of house calls is the strength of the relationship between patients and their medical team. The providers at Welcome Health make it a point to get to know each patient as a whole person, which includes knowing each person’s family and caregivers, as well as understanding his or her home environment, lifestyle, stressors, and little pleasures. “Providing primary care for a person in his or her home helps with disease diagnosis and management and, equally importantly, helps foster a relationship between older adults and their medical team that results in more personalized care,” Goldwater said.
Welcome Health is a primary care medical group in Los Angeles providing convenient and comprehensive home-based primary care to older adults. Medical services are supported by virtual visits and remote patient monitoring. Welcome Health serves parts of L.A. County and currently accepts Medicare fee-for-service and specific Medicare HMO plans. If you or someone you know is looking for patient-centered, home-based care, please visit welcomehealth.org for additional information or call 562-444-5590.
Welcome Health’s clinicians are experienced in caring for seniors, SCAN said in the announcement, which does require unique expertise. These clinicians will have a background in treating dementia, falls, frailty, polypharmacy and loneliness, common challenges in geriatric care.
Providing care in the home and virtually allows the Welcome Health clinical teams to reach seniors who want to age in place as well as those who may face significant barriers to accessing care in person, Weingarten said. Those challenges can range from lack of access to transportation to lingering fears of going to in-person visits as the pandemic rolls on.
Weingarten said he’s inspired in part in the new CEO role by his mother, who avoided visits to her doctor for the better part of a year because she was afraid of exposure to COVID-19.
“We think there are other seniors out there like my mother who would benefit and prefer to receive their care in their home if it were available,” he said.
In addition, specialized senior care in the home allows clinicians to more directly examine the patient’s environment identifying potential risks such as falls and managing their medications more effectively. Welcome Health’s clinical team, for example, can identify drugs in a patient’s medication regimen that may be doing more harm than good for their ongoing care.
“With Welcome Health, SCAN is broadening our offerings in keeping with our mission to keep seniors healthy and independent,” said Sachin Jain, M.D., president and CEO of SCAN Group and SCAN Health Plan, in a statement.
Welcome Health is the second medical group launched by SCAN this year.
This summer, SCAN launched Healthcare in Action, another medical group that aims to provide care to homeless patients. The group’s approach is built on providing street medicine to seniors, which is a growing population among the homeless.