Why Sick Seniors Should Get a House Call
It’s Friday night and you suddenly feel a sharp head pain. Fearing something worse than a common headache, you do a few quick self-tests to check balance and coordination. Everything seems okay, but the pain won’t subside. What do you do?
If you’re like way too many seniors, you decide to wait and see. The thought of going to the ER, calling 911 or even contacting your doctor’s on-call service makes you cringe. Then there are the worries that go along with potentially costly care, getting somewhere to be seen, waiting hours for care and other unknowns. Compounding the concern even further, an on-call physician likely will default to directing you to the ER to cover all bases, including their liability.
Seniors worry and “wait it out” way too much. In some cases, the issue resolves on its own. In others, it could be a sign of a very serious situation and waiting could be extremely dangerous.
Now, seniors can request an affordable and convenient house call that, on average, takes two to three hours from the initial outreach to completion of care in their own home. First, a phone assessment determines if the situation requires an ER visit or qualifies for a house call. DispatchHealth is one of a growing number of in-home, urgent care services across the country providing care that doesn’t burn a hole in the pocketbook.
Typical out-of-pocket with insurance/Medicare ranges from $6-$45. Those needing or wanting to pay directly are charged a flat rate of $275. With locations in eight states, DispatchHealth offers care throughout the day and well into the evening, and is open weekends and holidays. This provides a substantial safety net for times when physician’s offices and other non-urgent healthcare facilities are not open.
Besides the immediate, acute issue, availability of medical house calls can serve as an important part of seniors’ long-term healthcare picture. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) report notes: “Even individuals with major health problems or who are experiencing symptoms avoid seeking medical care. For example, in one study, 17% of patients diagnosed with rectal tumors reported that they waited a year or more to seek medical consultation after noticing symptoms, with some waiting up to five years. Avoiding medical care may result in late detection of disease, reduced survival, and potentially preventable human suffering.”
Procrastination, for whatever reasons, can become “deadly serious” according to a USnews.com report: “However, procrastination can be deadly serious, too. ‘You can die from it, of course. I know lots of people who have died from it,” [Piers Steel, a professor of psychology at the University of Calgary in Alberta, and author of ‘The Procrastination Equation’] says. ‘It can be something like finding a lump in your breast and then not treating it.’ Unnecessarily delaying medical tests or treatment — a common concern — can certainly put a person in harm’s way.”
With the house call option, many seniors not easily able to move about or travel to a healthcare center can get an initial assessment and exam to determine what next steps, if any, are needed. As the report emphasizes, this can prolong life and quality of life.
House calls are proving to be a timely and non-threatening way for the rapidly-growing population of seniors to access care instead of worrying and waiting it out — which currently seems to be the option of least resistance for many.
This is borne out by the NIH report: “…many participants reported traditional barriers to medical care (58.4%), such as high cost (24.1%), no health insurance (8.3%), and time constraints (15.6%)… People often avoid seeking medical care even when they suspect it may be necessary; nearly one-third of respondents in a recent national United States (U.S.) survey reported avoiding the doctor.”
Consequences of worrying and waiting it out until a manageable issue becomes potentially life-threatening and chronic are staggering to the nation’s health care system in addition to impacting individual prognosis. USA Today reports: “Two-thirds of traditional Medicare beneficiaries older than 65 have multiple chronic conditions…about 15 percent account for half of Medicare spending…More than 4 million—about 15%–have at least six long-term ailments. Those sickest seniors account for more than 41% of the $324 billion spent on traditional Medicare.”
Affordable medical house calls provide a compelling way to counter senior worries and procrastination because of care cost and convenience. By accessing care and diagnosis earlier — potentially avoiding the ER or other emergent care — individual outcomes can be improved. It also lessens stress on the nation’s health care system.
Regardless of how seniors feel most comfortable communicating — phone and/or online — DispatchHealth offers user-friendly options. The company is also contracted with most insurance companies. Easy ways to get started include calling the phone number listed on the website for your location, checking out the website, or downloading the DispatchHealth app on Android or Apple smartphones.
Instead of worrying and waiting it out, check it out in the convenience of your home using urgent care.
If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.