HouseCalls visits associated with fewer emergency visits, hospital stays for Medicare Advantage patients

June 06, 2023 | 5 min Read
  • Researchers also noted reduced follow-up primary care wait times for HouseCalls participants.

Medicare Advantage patients who received in-home, preventive wellness assessments via the Optum HouseCalls program spent less time in emergency room and inpatient hospital settings, researchers at Yale Medicine working in collaboration with Optum have found.

Details: The peer-reviewed study, published in Medical Care, observed reductions in both emergency department (ED) visits and inpatient hospital stays for patients receiving HouseCalls visits across four conditions based on the most recent available pre-pandemic data (2018-2019):

  • Type 2 diabetes. 
  • Hypertension.
  • Coronary artery disease.
  • Depression.

Receiving an in-home visit was associated with:

Graphic showing 3.7 percent fewer ED visits for patients with depression. 4.4 percent fewer ED visits for patients with hypertension. 2.5 percent decrease for in-patient hospital care for patients with depression. 5.2 percent decrease in-patient hospital care for Type 2 diabetes patients.

Patients receiving HouseCalls visits also saw reduced wait times to receive follow-up primary care, ranging from 2.5 days for hypertension to five days for depression.

Yes, and other sources find: Nearly 1 out of every 4 people screened had a medical condition they didn’t realize they had.

How it works: HouseCalls, performed by a licensed health care practitioner such as a nurse practitioner, ensure continuity of care by providing primary care and directly addressing many urgent needs.

  • The practitioner then shares assessment results with the individual's primary care physician and can directly refer them to support services including social workers, behavioral health, pharmacists and care management programs.

Other notable numbers for those who received in-home visits:

Graphic showing 76 percent of seniors received an in-office primary care visit within 90-days of a HouseCalls visit (and 89 percent of the time within 180 days). 80 percent of seniors diagnosed with major depressive disorder during a HouseCalls visit were engaged by behavioral health practitioners and enrolled in a program to receive support (with a 37 percent remission rate the next year). 21 percent of seniors started a statin recommended during their 2019 visit, which has been shown to lower the risk of a vascular event by up to 30 percent.

Between the lines: As health care delivery shifts to a value-based, patient-centered model, annual in-home preventive wellness assessments can help to identify unmet health and social needs for those enrolled in Medicare Advantage.

  • The study also shows how Medicare Advantage — with consumer-focused plans and additional benefits not available in fee-for-service — helps people to find the best paths of care at the right place and time, while also reducing health care costs through modernized and coordinated clinical programs that address people’s unique needs.

The bottom line: Optum and UnitedHealthcare’s unique approach to value-based care helps better serve Medicare Advantage patients and is helping to deliver better health outcomes.*


*HouseCalls may not be available in all areas.