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House-Call Pilot Saves Medicare $25 Million

For the care of some frail, elderly patients, house calls save money. That's the conclusion Medicare officials have reached after the first year of a pilot program. The program, launched 3 years ago, covered 8,400 patients at 17 primary-care practices across the country. They were all frail or homebound and had multiple chronic (long-term) illnesses. The program provided regular home visits from a doctor or nurse practitioner. If needed, they could do an X-ray or EKG. They could test for infections. They could also check to make sure people were taking their pills and eating healthy foods. This program cost more than regular primary care visits. But it prevented so many hospital trips that it saved Medicare $25 million in the first year, officials said. The average was more than $3,000 for each patient. Nine of the 17 practices recorded savings and met goals for quality of care.

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