Health Care at Home

Listen 48:54
An illustration of a health care worker helping someone into bed at home

(DeeBoldrick/Big Stock)

A lot of us had our first taste of remote medical care during the pandemic — telemedicine checkups performed right in our own homes. It has its advantages — no travel time, no waiting room germs, no need to find a babysitter or change out of our jammies. And it can help doctors reach more patients without creating more strain.

Health systems across the country are thinking about bringing care right into patients’ homes, with ideas that go way beyond virtual visits — including everything from primary care check-ups to chemotherapy, and even hospital-level care.

On this episode, we explore what it takes to bring medical services into people’s homes. We hear stories about a new push to provide chemo at home, what it would take to provide high-level care, and what it’s like working as a home health aide.

  • Chemotherapy can be a time-consuming process — but thanks to COVID-19, some patients have been getting the chance to try it out at home. Jad Sleiman reports.
  • A doctor coming to your house sounds like something from a bygone era, where the physician arrives on horseback with a leather satchel full of instruments and tinctures. But there is a growing demand for this kind of service. Reporter Irina Zhorov tagged along with a primary care provider in a rural area, as she went to see her patients at home.
  • David Zaas was a president of a North Carolina hospital, when he himself became a patient at a different hospital. He had cancer, and required specialty care several hundred miles away from home. He missed his family and bed; he felt lonely and afraid. The experience made him wonder: Could high-level care be provided outside of hospital walls? The idea of bringing hospital care home is gaining a lot of traction right now. Dan Gorenstein, host of the health care podcast “Tradeoffs” explored what it would take to make it happen.
  • We talk with home health aides about what makes their job both difficult and rewarding — and what could be behind the massive projected staff shortages in their field.
  • Sometimes, health care happens at home without any planning or preparation. We listen back to a story from our archives about a dramatic birth that took place on a couple’s steps — just as they were headed to the birthing center.

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