Doctors at Your Door: Are House Calls Making a Comeback?

A program in New York City is reviving house calls for Medicare patients with multiple illnesses in hopes of saving money on emergency room visits and hospital care.

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An old idea is becoming new again. To increase access to high-quality health care for Medicare patients, a newly announced federal program called Independence at Home aims to test the effectiveness of the old-fashioned house call. The program will deliver care to thousands of the sickest and most vulnerable seniors in the U.S., allowing such patients to remain in the comfort of their homes instead of entering long-term care facilities. Proponents of home-care programs say the approach keeps medical costs down by helping high-risk patients with multiple illnesses avoid hospitals and emergency rooms.

Indeed, ask the physicians participating in Mount Sinai Hospital’s Visiting Doctors program, which has been offering home care 24/7 to about 800 homebound patients in New York City for the last 15 years. Dr. Theresa Soriano, the director of the program, says that by getting out of the office and into patients’ homes, she’s able to help people stave off bigger health issues by addressing some of the smaller ones, like keeping blood pressure in check, improving patients’ diets, and reminding them to take their medication.

TIME recently followed Dr. Soriano while she made the rounds with some of her patients. Click play above to watch.

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