I read with great adoration the article about Dr. Fred Richardson who makes house calls. The exciting thing to me isn’t that he is making house calls, but rather, he’s making them mostly in the Englewood community, allegedly a low-income, crime-ridden Chicago area neighborhood.
Since July there have been dozens of violent crimes, including robberies, assaults, murders, and sexual assaults. There are also many property crimes. But this doesn’t deter Dr. Richardson, and the residents love him for it. I happen to like this idea, primarily because of the many seniors who benefit from this service. Not only are some of them afraid to go out, but many are also physically unable to go to the doctor and have nobody to take them there.
The doctor feels compelled to serve this community since it’s the one where he grew up. It’s a service that isn’t very cost effective for most doctors, but there is a resurgence of doctors who make house calls nonetheless. There are several online resources where patients can find doctors who will visit them at their homes, including Doctors To You, Doc Talker, and Modern Mobile Medicine, just to name a few. My doctor doesn’t make house calls, though my former doctor would do it for some of his at-risk patients.
Though I like the idea of this service, I do have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it’s great to have a doctor come to your home for a non-emergency, especially when you are physically unable to go or have no way to get to a doctor due to a lack of transportation. But on the other hand, I can see a lot of a doctor’s time being spent dealing with hypochondriacs. According to Mayo Clinic, one of my few go-to sources for medical information, a hypochondriac is a person who has a preoccupation with the idea they are seriously ill; this condition is categorized as an illness anxiety disorder and is not a physical illness. It can drive many doctors crazy because they waste time dealing with a patient who doesn’t really need them. The worry is, most doctors have to respond to each episode diligently because they never know if the next call is the one in which the patient is really sick.
But in all, house calls are a grand idea, and with a few tweaks, it can be a great service to patients. I just wonder how health insurance would fit into this. Meaning, how much of a house call visit would most healthy plans pay for?