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Medical home visits grow

Miami Herald, May 25, 2011

House calls, once thought to be too time-consuming and not very cost-effective, are making a comeback as healthcare providers recognize that they're actually the answer to good care for patients who can't make it to a doctor's office. Medicare-paid house calls have been steadily increasing, according to government figures, and doctors report the same for non-Medicare patients, according to the American Academy for Home Care Physicians. What's more, technology has made accessibility to patients' records and other medical information available at any time and any place, a boon to physicians on the go. Now a three-year federal government pilot program called Independence at Home is encouraging doctors to pick up those black medical bags of yore and pay a visit to their sickest patients. As part of the new healthcare reform law, the demonstration project will cover 10,000 Medicare patients described as medically fragile. It is set to begin in January in locations yet to be decided.