The Old Fashion “House-Call”

The idea of a doctor making a house call may seem too good to be true.

But some physicians deliver exactly that level of care to their patients.

Tom Zenner, a family medicine doctor for Bellin Health, is one of the physicians honoring the tradition. He said he’s “semi-retired,” but still sees about 15 patients a week, mostly seniors, in their homes or assisted living centers.

The Kewaunee doctor has been making the visits for about 32 years. When he started, “it just seemed like the right thing to do,” Zenner said.

The practice may be unique, but it saves money and allows health care providers to get more information about their patients than they would have during an office visit. It allows physicians to monitor a patient’s environment, assessing a number of factors, including risk, nutrition, obstacles and barriers.

At-home patients save 19 percent more than inpatients, with “comparable or better” clinical outcomes, according to June 2012 study that examined Johns Hopkins University Schools’ at-home care.

“It’s invaluable to be here,” Zenner said. “You can see, the plants are kept up, her house is neat as a pin, her clothes are clean. It all tells a story.”

Getting to the doctor’s office also is a challenge for some patients, Zenner said. If they don’t drive, they must rely on family or public transportation, which can be inconvenient and a significant expense.

Zenner has treated Mary Thor, 92, for several years. After she returned to her home after a stay in assisted living, he offered to see her in her home.

“It’s easy for me to do,” he said. “It’s primarily a convenience issue, but it solves some problems, eliminating the fear she’ll slip and fall. Now she’s got independence.”

Zenner also is able to communicate about Thor’s condition to other doctors who are treating her. He can draw blood and monitor her medications for them during his visits.

If a person receives care at home, it makes it less likely he or she will be readmitted to hospitals, said Melanie Tiedt, director of Home Care and Hospice for Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

The idea of a doctor making a house call may seem too good to be true.

But some physicians deliver exactly that level of care to their patients.

Tom Zenner, a family medicine doctor for Bellin Health, is one of the physicians honoring the tradition. He said he’s “semi-retired,” but still sees about 15 patients a week, mostly seniors, in their homes or assisted living centers.

The Kewaunee doctor has been making the visits for about 32 years. When he started, “it just seemed like the right thing to do,” Zenner said.

The practice may be unique, but it saves money and allows health care providers to get more information about their patients than they would have during an office visit. It allows physicians to monitor a patient’s environment, assessing a number of factors, including risk, nutrition, obstacles and barriers.

At-home patients save 19 percent more than inpatients, with “comparable or better” clinical outcomes, according to June 2012 study that examined Johns Hopkins University Schools’ at-home care.

“It’s invaluable to be here,” Zenner said. “You can see, the plants are kept up, her house is neat as a pin, her clothes are clean. It all tells a story.”

Getting to the doctor’s office also is a challenge for some patients, Zenner said. If they don’t drive, they must rely on family or public transportation, which can be inconvenient and a significant expense.

Zenner has treated Mary Thor, 92, for several years. After she returned to her home after a stay in assisted living, he offered to see her in her home.

“It’s easy for me to do,” he said. “It’s primarily a convenience issue, but it solves some problems, eliminating the fear she’ll slip and fall. Now she’s got independence.”

Zenner also is able to communicate about Thor’s condition to other doctors who are treating her. He can draw blood and monitor her medications for them during his visits.

If a person receives care at home, it makes it less likely he or she will be readmitted to hospitals, said Melanie Tiedt, director of Home Care and Hospice for Aurora BayCare Medical Center.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *