Healthcare System Makes Seniors Worse Off; House Calls can Help
Vulnerable seniors deserve better than “sickening” healthcare, brought on by the inconvenience of traveling to get care, cost uncertainty and complexity, long waits and being around others who are sick. Fortunately, the right house call cure is at their fingertips. It’s a more convenient, affordable and comfortable alternative to ERs and urgent care facilities.
Senior stress rises with travel times
Difficulty moving around and traveling somewhere for care can rise with age. What seemed effortless at 30 can be hard at 60. It doesn’t help that mobilizing often becomes necessary when seniors least want to get up and go. Add in cognitive impairment, and the difficulty can multiply. Notes a National Institute on Aging report, “A trip to the emergency room (ER) can tire and frighten a person with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.”
Luckily, advances in technology and new business models make it possible to get help at home. Telemedicine enables seniors to communicate via phone and video calls. There are now eyecare and hearing options that allow seniors to “order in.” And, house calls—once a mainstay of healthcare—are experiencing a resurgence. In fact, they’re becoming quite popular for seniors all over the country.
In part, that’s why DispatchHealth is expanding quickly. The Denver-based company, now in eight states, eliminates healthcare challenges for seniors by delivering high-quality advanced medical care to their doorstep.
Uncertain healthcare costs
Healthcare cost complexity and unpredictability comes up constantly among all age groups. For seniors, the impact can be multiplied. Fixed incomes, decreasing cognitive skills, worsening eyesight and other senior challenges can make an already difficult process practically unbearable.
Fortunately, there’s a growing trend toward providing healthcare services with cost clarity. DispatchHealth is one example. Simplifying cost of care communication, DispatchHealth typical out-of-pocket charges for seniors with insurance/Medicare range from $5.44 to $44.03. Nothing is due until the insurance company has processed the claim. That’s it. Those not using insurance pay a flat rate of $275 at time of service.
Long wait times
Suffering senior patients are losing patience with waiting to be seen. A 2017 Boston Globe report notes that long waits go beyond systems being taxed to serving as a profit motive: “Many hospitals and doctors offices, however, don’t recognize long waits by patients as a top priority, and an article in the New England Journal of Medicine last month suggested a reason why: Solving the problem could harm their bottom line. Much as airlines overbook to be sure every seat is filled, a backlog of patients helps keep examining rooms in full use… It’s hard to put a number to how bad the waiting room problem is. Many hospitals don’t consistently monitor delays. And there’s little public industry-wide data on the issue or on if delays are worsening.”
Seniors also increasingly are frustrated with how long it can take to schedule a non-emergency appointment with their primary care docs. Notes a 2017 Forbes.com article: “Patients are waiting an average of 24 days to schedule an appointment with a doctor…The longest wait to see a doctor was in Boston, where the average wait was 52 days to schedule an appointment with a family physician, dermatologist, cardiologist, orthopedic surgeon or obstetrician/gynecologist.”
DispatchHealth house calls eliminate both problems. Total time from initial care request to medical team arrival averages 1-2 hours.
Waiting with other sick people
Obviously, going to a facility full of sick people enhances the chances of catching something – especially when such afflictions as the flu are creating havoc across the country. Urgent care house calls take this ever-present and increasing problem out of the equation by offering care in the privacy of one’s home.
Given the clear benefits of healthcare house calls for seniors, the question isn’t, “Why try it?” The question is, “Why not try it?” It clearly meets the needs and wants of seniors, including making it easy to request care.