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Hospitals bringing back house calls

Update: October, 06/2015 - 09:07
A doctor of Go Vap Hospital visits a patient's home for examination in HCM City. — Photo

HCM CITY (VNS) — Vo Thi Yen, 80, of HCM City's Phu Nhuan District, who has heart disease and arthritis, no longer has to queue for her turn at Thong Nhat Hospital; the hospital now comes to her house to treat her.

And, the doctors who come home spend a lot of time with her unlike at the hospital, where, like at most public hospitals, they barely have a few minutes for each patient. "I can ask them a lot of questions," a gratified Yen says.

Under a new programme, several hospitals have begun to send doctors to the homes of old and infirm patients and those with disabilities who have chronic diseases.

Doan Trong Huy, 81, of District 3 has also been getting physicians from the hospital for the last four months. He also has heart disease besides hypertension and diabetes.

Need to register

Besides Thong Nhat, Go Vap, Binh Thanh, Xuyen A, and Thu Duc are some of the other hospitals that have started this service.

To avail the service, patients need to register with a hospital. People with health insurance are covered though they need to pay a little extra for it.

Go Vap Hospital, for instance, charges VND200,000 (US$8.8) for a house call for patients living in the district, and VND300,000 ($13) for others. Truong Quang Anh Vu, head of Thong Nhat Hospital's general planning division, said the hospital charges VND250,000 ($11).

It has been providing the service for six months and 236 patients have availed it, he said.

Doctors and patients have to set up a schedule for a visit, he said.

At Binh Thanh District Hospital, 130 patients use the service, including 10 poor people who get it for free. Hospitals said the service is one way to improve patients' satisfaction.

No guidelines

But Vu said the problem they face is that there are no guidelines for the service in the Law on Medical Examination and Treatment. The Ministry of Health has yet to oblige either.

Doctors make the house calls after their stipulated working hours, Vu said.

The ministry should issue regulations to streamline the service, he said, adding his hospital is waiting on it to set up a team of doctors who will make house calls during working hours.

Tang Chi Thuong, deputy head of the city Department of Health, said the department advocates that hospitals who can should offer the service. — VNS

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