“Growing up, my general practitioner saw my family at our house...but, that isn’t something I thought any doctors still did today.” At our Direct Primary Care practice, Direct Doctors, we hear this all the time. “Will you really come do a housecall if I am sick?” “Are you sure you I can call you anytime if I have a question?” The answer, as always at Direct Doctors, is yes - yes we are available, yes we will visit you at home! While your typical primary care doctor does not offer home visits and is often very hard to reach directly even during normal business hours, at Direct Doctors, we are always available to our patients and we wouldn’t change a thing.
In some places, house calls are making a comeback. We’re proud to be a big part of that trend in Rhode Island. Take the case of Dr. Hedde’s patient, Sylvia*. At 83, Sylvia had been healthy. When she moved to RI from the South, she looked for a unique physician who could truly be a partner in health. She found Dr. Hedde. She felt the monthly fee was well worth it for the ability to call, text or email Dr. Hedde anytime she needed her help or advice. A few months into her membership at Direct Doctors, Sylvia started with a new symptom. She began feeling so dizzy she was walking into walls. She called Dr. Hedde right away, reached her in a matter of minutes, and had an appointment scheduled at her own home that afternoon. Because of the dizziness, Sylvia couldn’t drive - though normally she always drove herself to all her appointments. Dr. Hedde went to her - without any additional charge besides the monthly fee of $100 Sylvia was already paying for access to this service. Dr. Hedde diagnosed Sylvia with a benign condition and gave her physical therapy exercises to work on at home, which had her on the mend within a couple of days. Though Sylvia never required another home visit, the ability to make that call on that unexpected day was priceless.
Baby Julian* is another story of the power of home visits and truly seamless contact with a primary care physician. As members of the Direct Doctors practice, Julian’s parents decided to have him join as a patient once he was born for an additional $10 per month. As with all newborns, Dr. Hedde visited him a few days after discharge from the hospital, about a week later, and one more week after that. Julian was healthy but his parents certainly appreciated the idea of avoiding a waiting room of sick children for his precious first month of life. As he turned two weeks, he developed what his parents’ worried was an infection on his umbilical cord. Within minutes they had texted Dr. Hedde a photograph, been reassured it looked normal, and arranged quick follow-up with a home visit the next day to be certain. Julian and his parents avoided a trip to the emergency room and Julian continued growing healthily without the risk of exposure to illness that such a trip could have caused.
Dr. Hedde’s patient Andreanna*, had always been well, seeing Dr. Hedde only once per year for a physical and never needing much else. She valued the time she got with her during her annual visit, and felt that attention was well worth the $50 she paid monthly to be in the practice. One day, out of the blue, she felt a lump on her side. She thought nothing of it for a few days, but after it worsened, she texted a description to Dr. Hedde. Because it was most convenient on that particular day for Dr. Hedde to swing by Andreanna’s house on her way home, she did just that.
The house call resulted in the early and quick diagnosis of a skin cancer that Andreanna had removed at Dr. Hedde’s office the next week. Andreanna continues to marvel at the speed with which she reached her doctor, the relationship that was the foundation for this acute care, and the swift nature of the evaluation and followup that Dr. Hedde offered. She now knows that although her fee had seemed a bit higher than what her friends medical bills were for their primary doctor, the value she received from this relationship was priceless, life-saving, and in the end, saved her money.
While not every patient will need a home visit, almost everyone has something acute and concerning come up in the course of their lives. When that moment happens, Direct Doctors’ patients are always comforted to know that they won’t wait on hold with a receptionist, they won’t be offered a visit two weeks down the road, they won’t be seen by someone other than their doctors and they won’t be forgotten. Drs. Hedde & Turshen pride themselves in offering truly holistic care, including home visits when needed for most, homebound care for others, and almost immediate availability by cell phone and email. Our patients say it best - not because they have to but, because they are so amazed by the difference in care we give, they cannot help but want to share it with those they care about!
*Names changed for privacy
Lauren Hedde, DO and Mark Turshen, MD are Family Physicians and Founders of Direct Doctors, Inc. a Direct Primary Care Practice.