Why Don’t Doctors Make House Calls Anymore

According to a December 2015 Forbes article, “house calls used to make up 40 percent of U.S. doctors’ visits in the 1940s, before going into decline in the 1960s.” In 1960, private patients paid 67% of their own healthcare visits directly to their provider(s), however by 2014, that number had collapsed to just 11%. Why?

There are a few reasons for this shift, and the truth is they are not all in the patient’s favor. With the emergence of managed care, corporate health insurance reform, Worker’s Compensation, Veteran’s benefits, and medical aid programs such as Medicare, doctors are now bound by an incalculable number of bureaucratic guidelines and regulations when caring for their patients. A centralized system of billing and communication for these various plans, coupled with the abundant demand for a doctor’s time and attention has been funneled into a brick-and-mortar office necessity, thereby requiring a doctor who may have previously been able to see between 8-12 patients a day to rush through a packed schedule of as many as 40 in the same amount of time. Simply put, general practitioners are over-extended by a system that places profit above patient care.

Doctors once bore the burden of the inefficiency of travel, thereby delaying the expediency with which they could treat their patients. The time required to move from place to place, coupled with the minimal capability to perform complex laboratory testing and procedures, is exacerbated by visits that “run long”, thus delaying the doctor’s inability to maintain their schedule effectively.

Additionally, the advancement in technological diagnostics machineries such as x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and various other equipment now necessitates that patients travel to their various medical providers rather than being seen in their homes. Universities and hospitals increasingly became centers where expensive diagnostic and therapeutic technologies were available and collective hubs for highly specialized diagnosticians and surgical scholars. While a legitimate argument for several specialized treatment modalities, in many cases, this shift has not increased efficiency; instead, it has transferred the cost of traveling and waiting from doctors to patients.

Because doctors must primarily submit charges for patient care to insurance carriers by way of a structured coding system and pre-calculated values, the expectation for rejection of charges is high. This requires doctors and their office staff to regularly conform to new diagnosis codes and charges or risk non-payment. Patients, by contrast, are responsible for deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance amounts, and in many cases, services that fall outside of their rigorous plan directives – not to mention the endless wait for test results, well-visits and routine appointments, and emergency care. In order to compensate for the shortfalls, financial disincentives, and disparities created by this structure, doctors are faced with almost impossible requirements for patient care quotas, and their care of those patients is primarily driven by profits rather than personal care.

With the emergence of concierge medicine or direct primary care, patients can appreciate the personalized attention of retainer-based, in-home physician care. Members receive fast, convenient, direct access to their medical providers through unlimited telephonic communication, online assistance, and personal visits. For a monthly fee, they will receive in-person and telehealth visits that last as long as necessary through direct care from a doctor without worrying about co-pays and other charges. This level of personal care isn’t limited, should you need answers to simple medical questions, wound care, or even simple diagnostic or blood testing performed. If you require a specialist referral or hospital care, your Desert Mobile Medical doctor coordinates these services. With concierge medicine, you can rest in comfort and peace of mind without the red tape or headaches caused by insurance or corporate healthcare system interference.