From Chaos to Comfort: Redefining Health Care with House Calls and MediSeen
Hospitals can be highly chaotic spaces—especially if you’re a registered nurse. We’ve got doctors, other nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists all coming at us for information and feedback. There are tests to be done, and we’re being pulled in every different direction.
It’s a challenge to give the patient our undivided attention.
But finding a way to work with the patient one-on-one allows us to concentrate on them rather than anyone else. This is the environment that can be created through house calls and why I’m giving it a bigger focus in my professional life.
Connecting with My Calling: My Path as an RN
All of my relatives work in health care, so I always knew I would pursue a medical career. I actually began as a paramedic, but went back to school for nursing after I was unable to find work. That switch in professions turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
In my 22 years as an RN, I’ve found nursing is a job that allows you to actually help people. You're knowledgeable. You're respected. There's always work for you. There are so many different avenues that you can take in nursing.
I started by delivering food trays in a Toronto hospital, which led to positions in pediatric, geriatric, and palliative care. I soon shifted into community nursing, providing high-quality medical care to vulnerable, lower income individuals who needed those crucial followups at home after being discharged from the hospital.
Providing Support Where It’s Needed
Looking back, my time in community nursing was a formative point of my career because it opened my eyes to a lot of things people experienced outside of the hospital. Many people who required care were living alone in one-room apartments and had no family. They had no support from anyone.
The rooms would be run-down. They couldn’t make it to the washroom on their own, and you could smell their accidents when you walked in the apartment. More than anyone else, these people needed the personal touch and care that only in-house treatment can provide.
House calls are especially impactful for cancer patients. The illness itself takes an obvious toll, and the hospital environment only compounds that feeling. I remember one time I went to see a cancer patient at home, and the look of joy that swept over his face as I walked in the door melted my heart. He knew he’d get the care he needed without the sterile environment of a hospital. He would get my undivided attention, which, on an emotional level, he needed more than anything else in that moment.
I later became a manager at Home Care, where I coordinated the doctors, pharmacists, suppliers, and nurses to ensure they could make house calls after a patient was discharged. It was incredibly rewarding, but I had no flexibility in my schedule. I was on a permanent evening shift, making it difficult to spend quality time with my two young kids.
Taking a position in Teletriage, where I field calls from the public answering questions about health-related matters, has given me that flexibility. I’ve been able to work from home, instead of a call center, and as my family grew from two to four kids (now young adults), I have the ability to be there for them too. I’ve been with Telehealth for 16 years now. The flexibility is fantastic because it allows me to explore my options in returning to house calls and home care.
Making a Difference with MediSeen
My quest to get back into house calls has taken me to MediSeen, where they look to bring house calls back into mainstream health care. I think it's a needed service now more than ever. People want comfort, hospitals want to free up beds, and MediSeen allows RNs to dictate where and when they work.
With MediSeen, I'm hoping to get involved helping kids and postoperative patients—people coming out of the hospital who need wound care or IV medication given to them. Those are the types of patients I’m looking to be involved with.
Eventually, I want it to increase my work in home care. But right now, that built-in flexibility helps me keep my kids my main priority.
I look forward to working with all kinds of patients again. Working in teletriage, distant from patients, can become isolating. And seeing the impact of my work firsthand and taking a hands-on approach to my patient’s wellness is so rewarding. If that could become a reality, it would make my involvement with MediSeen a success.
Best Practices for Better Care
I’m excited to start working with MediSeen because it will allow me to do the work I find most rewarding. But if you’ve never done house calls before, it’s important to be aware of some best practices before you start. Here are five tips I’ve found that have made my house calls successful.
1. Do Your Research
You definitely need to do some research before you head to a potential patient’s house. It’s important to know what the call is about. You need to research the problem so you can help the patient in the best manner. If you're going in there clueless, you’ll lose the trust of the patient, so it's best you know exactly what's going on beforehand. I personally have medical books at home that I use for research, but I also consult with colleagues to help fill any gaps in my knowledge.
2. Get in Their World
Attending to a patient at home gives you a new perspective on their illness. And since you’re now in their world, it helps to speak with the patient and their family, if needed, so you get an idea of what exactly they want in terms of care and the outcome. They may be able to shed more light on any symptoms or any environmental factors that might aggravate their illness.
3. Organize Your Equipment
It’s a simple step, but it’s critical to know whether all the necessary equipment is there and available so you’re able to actually help your patient. Make sure to find out if the patient should already have equipment at home and what specifically they expect you to bring, if anything. If you don’t know what to expect, you might end up making a trip for no reason, which is a waste of time for you and your patient.
4. Build Patient Trust
It helps if you are able to speak with the patient before an appointment. Let them know what your background is and get an idea of what they should expect, what you expect, and set the time you're going to visit. Don't have any surprises for them and be respectful of both the patient and their time.
5. Cultivate Comfort
It’s a given that people feel more comfortable in their own home. They feel more relaxed. There's no one bothering them. So in that way they're more comfortable with you coming into their home. That being said, it’s important to maintain your professionalism as you build rapport. You’re providing a service, you’re a guest, and, above all, you’re a health care professional.
The Future of Health Care, For Some
House calls certainly aren’t right for everyone. They won’t replace the need for some people to go to the hospital and not every health care professional will prefer it over their traditional job. But for health care professionals and patients alike, it will provide a new avenue for treatment.
House calls give nurses, doctors, and patients more control and the personalized care they want and need. By seeing patients on their terms, you’re providing a critical service that drastically improves their quality of care and quality of life. And you might just find it does the same for you.