Dr. Bob Weissinger DO, ARMO
ASSOCIATE REGIONAL MEDICAL OFFICER, CareMore Health
The old-fashioned house call is a thing of the past. A time when kindly doctors like Marcus Welby M.D. visited patients in their homes and intimately knew their medical and personal problems.
But today, the house call has made a comeback. Organizations like CareMore have revived the house call to provide our patients more convenient and effective care. Coming to people’s homes often is the best way to give them the care they need, keep them healthy and avoid the hospital.
CareMore has been in Iowa since 2015. We specialize in treating patients with chronic and complex conditions.
It is estimated that 50% of the population over age 65 has one or more chronic diseases. These patients need more care and attention than an annual visit to the doctor’s office. Rather, they require constant care and a close relationship with their doctor.
CareMore is well suited for these patients. Other clinics can make you feel rushed, with doctors moving on to the next patient after 10 minutes. In contrast, an appointment with a CareMore doctor or nurse can last 45 to 60 minutes. We take time to listen to your concerns, your health history, your goals and challenges.
You can have a CareMore appointment in settings that are convenient and help you avoid a long drive to the clinic. We can do a virtual or telehealth visit, where we connect via internet or phone.
For Iowa patients, our CareMore mobile health unit comes to your community, offering exams, testing and screenings.
When a clinic appointment isn’t feasible, we can come to your home – an old-fashioned house call. In my role with CareMore I have made home visits across Iowa, in small towns and remote, rural areas.
What can we do during a home appointment? Everything we do at the clinic. But the home visit allows us to do even more: We can assess your home environment for safety and health. In the home, I can tell if the patient is eating healthy, if there is smoking or other unhealthy behaviors. Whether the home is clean and free of fall risks like loose throw rugs.
A home visit also helps me understand if the home environment is emotionally healthy. I can quickly sense whether the patient has good support from friends and family. I also can observe where there is loneliness or possible drug abuse. Where there is a chronic medical condition, about 80 percent of those patients also experience a mental health problem like depression or anxiety. And of those, 30 percent have a drug abuse problem.
During my career, I’ve come to understand that medicine is simple – the textbook aspects of diagnosing and treating disease. However, the other factors make health care difficult and challenging. For example, the physical effects of loneliness are equivalent to a lifetime of smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.
Those factors lie beyond medical care, and account for 80 percent of a person’s health. In my next column, I’ll discuss these “social determinants of health.”