HouseCalls provides care coordination and compassion

The power of HouseCalls

Heather Davis, a registered nurse practitioner with HouseCalls, is used to providing care to people who live in rural areas of north Alabama. She cheerfully greets UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage members while conducting annual visits and routine tests.

But sometimes there are experiences that emphasize just how meaningful these visits can be.  

The day Heather first met Jack was one she’ll never forget.

When she came to his home and took his vitals, she knew that something wasn’t right — he had dangerously high blood pressure.

“It was 217 over 110,” Jack said. “She said, ‘There's something going on.’”

Heather strongly encouraged him to go to the emergency room.

“After I got Jack to the ER and knew that he was there, I got the update that he had had a stent placed in his heart, preventing a massive heart attack,” she said.

For Heather, while this HouseCalls visit was certainly life-changing, the program is also more than the big moments. It’s meeting people where they are to help promote healthier lives, helping to facilitate truly holistic care.

For example, 5.2 million older adults face food insecurity. And more than 17 million older adults are economically insecure, which means that their income levels are 200% below the federal poverty level.

Some of the people Heather meets have to make choices between food and medicine. That is why listening and being aware of the social drivers of health that may affect a large part of their overall well-being is so important.

Licensed healthcare professionals like Heather help screen for issues like food security, transportation and housing in order to make referrals when necessary to help address these problems. She also refers members to a health care advocate, who can help close the loop and get them needed resources.

And it’s making a difference. Recent HouseCalls data shows:

  • Members receiving HouseCalls visits saw reduced wait times to receive follow-up primary care, ranging from more than two days less for hypertension to five days less for depression
  • About 75% of older members had in-office primary care visits within 90 days of their HouseCalls visit1
  • More than 553,000 referrals for social drivers of health were made, as a direct result of HouseCalls visits1

Heather recalls one member she met who was very proud of their home. But it was in great need of repairs — floorboards were falling in and the roof was leaking. She connected the member to a UnitedHealthcare advocate was able to find a service to initiate affordable repairs.

“It was really humbling for me, that after I left, the visit was impactful,” Heather said. “The following year [this member was] diagnosed with cancer. It relieved one burden off them so that when something unforeseen hit them, they were more able to focus on themselves and their care.”

This interconnectedness of the care that HouseCalls enables stems from the fact Heather can see things that a primary care physician cannot — for example, if multiple physicians have prescribed duplicate medication, or if a member is able to dress and feed themselves without struggle. She is also able to provide education and guidance on everything from goals of care to knowing what foods to eat.

So whether it’s someone like Jack receiving life-altering — and life-saving — care, or other members whose visits set in motion critical follow-up care or necessary social support services, HouseCalls is helping to improve the overall health and quality of life for older adults across the country.

“What we do sets the ball rolling not only in that visit,” Heather said, “but it empowers them and encourages them with steps to be healthy.”

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