House Calls 2.0 Come Knocking

Philip Betbeze, June 17, 2011

I know what you're thinking: Is this just another headline designed to get me to click only to find out it has nothing to do with the story? No such deception here. In fact, bringing the house call back to healthcare might be an interesting idea whose time may have come--again.

As you know, long before health insurance, HMOs, capitation and Medicare, much of medicine depended on the house call. It was a simple, all-cash (or barter) business. But gradually, as more employers began to provide healthcare benefits in lieu of raises to their employees, the practice faded away.

Patients no longer had to take much responsibility on the financial side (or personal responsibility side, for that matter) for their care. In many cases, customer service went out of style in healthcare at about the same time. Still, many patients remained satisfied. They made the quick transition to making an appointment and going to see the doc, and the best part was, they never (or rarely) saw a bill.

Those days are long gone now for most people, so the time might be right for the house call to make a comeback. End of history lesson and enter Bob Fabbio.

Fabbio has no reason to jump feet first into healthcare (he's already rich from starting a company from nothing and selling it to IBM) other than the fact that he was angry that more than half his day was wasted on a 2006 routine trip to his primary care physician's office.

"I got up to go to doctor, left at 9 a.m., and between all the hassles, I didn't return until 2:15 p.m.," he says. "As I was coming down my driveway, I realized the messiest market in the world is healthcare, and wouldn't it be nice if routine visits could truly be made routine."

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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