BY TERRY GILLILAND, MD - We all know about the aging baby-boomer generation. What you may not know is that the number of seniors who are homebound is also growing. A report from the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2015 revealed that about 2 million people over age 65, or nearly 6 percent of elderly Americans, rarely leave their homes. Yet, only 12 percent of those who were homebound received primary care services at their homes.
It’s a thorny issue that Blue Shield of California is also trying to solve: figuring out best ways to provide access to high-quality, affordable care that’s readily available to patients. In this case, it’s about delivering comprehensive care in the comfort and convenience of people’s homes.
We do this in part with our collaboration with Landmark, a healthcare company that provides community-based, physician-led house calls to patients who have complex health issues and multiple chronic illnesses. Landmark’s care team is available 24/7 to provide routine and urgent care visits, as well as post-discharge visits to ensure a safe transition back home from the hospital. This service is currently available to our Medicare beneficiaries, and will be expanded to people enrolled in our commercial benefit plans.
(Take a look at the video below of a patient who has benefited from Landmark’s service.)
Landmark is just one of the ways Blue Shield members get access to care in their homes. Last month, we announced Blue Shield’s nationally recognized home-based palliative care is now available in all 58 counties of California. Again, this program provides comprehensive care support – medical, behavioral, social, spiritual – to people suffering from serious illnesses.
In addition, our collaboration with Heal allows physicians to make home visits for primary care services. Together, our members have access to a suite of home-based care.
These services are designed to augment – not replace – the physicians and providers that our members already see. We believe by making these extra services available, we are helping to ensure Blue Shield members have access to what we’d like to call “healthcare that is worthy of our family and friends.”
This is what we do as a mission-driven, nonprofit health plan: providing Californians access to high-quality care that’s sustainably affordable.
Terry Gilliland, MD is senior vice president and chief health officer at Blue Shield of California