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The Doctor Is In. In Your House, That Is.

By John Wasik of the New York Times

REMEMBER when doctors made house calls?

While only a relative handful of doctors still offer them, there is growing evidence that comprehensive home medical care could be a viable alternative to the attendant woes and soaring expenses of institutional health services, particularly for those in late retirement.

It will take some important legislative changes before focused, less intrusive care in a dignified, comfortable setting can become more widely available. The polarizing politics surrounding the Affordable Care Act makes any reform to the health care system particularly challenging. Still, given the overall popularity of Medicare — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both say they support it — getting a new home medical care benefit through Congress looks more promising.

At the heart of the home care renaissance is a combination of high-tech, portable medical equipment and the age-old practice of doctors coming into the home to personally examine and treat their patients.

“We can do X-rays, EKGs, medical records and other applications in the home,” said Dr. Thomas Cornwell, who has made more than 32,000 house calls in his Chicago-based practice and wants to see Medicare support more home-based medical care.

“I had a 92-year-old patient with a very high temperature,” Dr. Cornwell said, citing an example. “I brought in a portable X-ray and diagnosed pneumonia; she didn’t have to go to the hospital, and lived four more years.”

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