VCU Medical Center Chosen for National Program to Test House Calls

Patient-centered home care model provides elderly patients medical care

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The Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center has been selected as one of 19 sites nationwide to participate in the Independence at Home Demonstration to test the advantages of house calls for elderly patients too ill or disabled to visit their physicians. 

Peter Boling, M.D., professor of medicine and chair of the Division of Geriatric Medicine, along with his team of physicians, nurse practitioners, social workers and support staff, will operate the three-year initiative beginning in September in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania and Medstar Washington Hospital Center.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the program, known as the Mid-Atlantic Consortium for the Independence at Home Demonstration, based on a model tested and promoted by VCU House Calls, a program that has provided in-home primary care for more than 5,000 home-bound patients over the past 25 years.

Similar programs are operated by the other two consortium partners.

"By going to these patients, you make it much easier for them to have the care that they need, when they need it, both for chronic illnesses and for newly developing problems," Boling said. “This program can help keep our patients from needlessly riding in ambulances and going to emergency rooms when their conditions can safely be managed at home, which could also save the Medicare program billions of dollars each year and keep patients out of harm’s way.”

Boling received national media attention, including on NBC Nightly News in 2009, for his work in crafting language for the Independence at Home Act that advocated in-home medical care for individuals with functional impairment, high costs and multiple illnesses. 

Boling and a small group of colleagues worked for several years with members of U.S. Congress to help craft the Independence at Home Act of 2009, which authorized the demonstration pilot and became section 3024 in the Affordable Care Act signed into law in March 2010.