History of the House Call

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Brent Herritt


House Calls, History of Medicine, Health Care Savings, Home Care, Care for the Elderly


Physicians for millennia have performed house calls. It allows for the opportunity of the physician to develop a connection with a patient while they are their most vulnerable. This established profound physician-patient relationships, as both the time spent with the patient was longer and the frequency of visits were higher. This article will examine the early history of the house call, how it became nearly extinct in the 20th century and its recent resurgence. The house call will also be examined as a tool of improving patient outcomes and as a method to decrease health care expenditures in wake of the aging population with increased comorbidities. The black bag may now contain a pulse oximeter, a glucometer and portable ECG but its essence remains the same. The opportunity to walk on hallowed ground and be with the patient at their most vulnerable is an opportunity few are privileged to experience.