The GW Medical Faculty Associates Medical House Call Program provides personalized, home-based primary and end-of life care to men and women with complex and serious illnesses. We coordinate care with a range of health professionals in the hospital and home setting, working closely with home care, visiting nurse, community, and hospice agencies. We are available by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and our health care providers will respond to requests for emergency visits.
Many homebound patients are never seen by their primary care physicians, despite being chronically ill with multiple symptoms. In contrast, many nursing home patients have similar functional deficits and see a physician an average of eight times each year. Ambulatory patients with chronic illnesses see their physicians eleven times a year. These fragile patients often are invisible to the health care system until they are very ill and require hospitalization. One home visit to a person with chronic illness and a heavy symptom burden can shed light on the patient’s home environment, values, family life, and safety. That visit improves the physician’s ability to provide routine and palliative care.
Many of our patients have limited life expectancies. Likely to die soon, they need delicate and clinically sophisticated end-of-life care and medical counseling about treatment options. These patients benefit from greater physician contact. If a patient wishes to die at home, physician home visits, in combination with hospice care, may be the only way to achieve this goal.
We know that medical house call programs improve the continuity of care between the home and the hospital, provide support and education to families or caregivers, and provide linkage to a broad range of social and supportive services in the community. Home visits alleviate suffering, reduce stress for caregivers, and avert costly trips to the emergency department.