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What to Know About Primary Care at Home



Primary care at home can help support a patient in many ways, providing primary, urgent, or palliative care to the medically vulnerable while helping them feel less alone. According to the American Academy of Home Care Medicine, primary care at home program (PCH program) can be an ideal option for those with multiple chronic conditions, providing many benefits working in partnership with other medical teams that may include a primary care physician, nurse practitioners, nurses, physician assistants, social workers, pharmacists, and emergency medical technicians.

Millions receive medical care at home, 4.5 million according to the latest estimates available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Still, with thousands among the baby boomer generation turning 65 every day and the group of those 80 and older growing the fastest, there aren’t enough patients utilizing PCH programs.

If it’s something that you’re considering for yourself or a loved one, here’s what you need to know about its many benefits and more.

It’s Not Just for the Elderly

While we noted that primary care at home can be important to support aging Americans over the age of 80, it isn’t just for the elderly. For example, a 36-year-old woman with a seizure disorder and congenital cerebral palsy who requires a feeding tube and is non-verbal probably needs care around the clock. Her family may be providing most of it but cannot do so 24 hours a day due to work and other obligations. Without home-based primary care, her only access to health care would be via the emergency room, which would be yet another burden for caregivers as well as the entire system.

Easing the Burden of Elderly Caregivers

Among elderly couples, many are faced with caring for their spouses. Think about the 87-year-old man with an 85-year-old wife who has been hospitalized multiple times for conditions like pneumonia and heart failure. She’s reliant on her husband, but he doesn’t have the energy to provide that constant care and may develop health problems himself. As Caregiverlist points out, primary care at home can reduce stress and keep elderly spouses from suffering from serious health conditions. 

Ensuring Follow-Up Care

Homebound and home-limited patients often have difficulty getting to appointments, which means they don’t receive critical follow-up care, creating a cycle of poor health management. In the end, it’s more expensive for everyone as well as more exhaustive for the patient and caregivers. Home-based primary care is like a modern-day house call, ensuring these patients get the necessary care even in the most medically complex situations.

Many Other Benefits

In addition to supporting caregivers and improving quality care, a PCH program can significantly lessen the number of medical emergencies and the poor control of chronic conditions, which are some of the most frequently cited issues for readmission, an ER visit, or an acute hospitalization. Home-based primary care can also enable Medicare Advantage programs and care organizations to better coordinate and improve the quality of care to their most costly patients, boosting satisfaction while significantly reducing high-cost nursing home services. 

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