Dr. Patrick Kavanagh is a throwback to an earlier time. An internist, Kavanagh makes house calls to seniors with multiple chronic conditions who find it difficult to get to the doctor’s office. Kavanagh, who was recently featured in a Sun-Sentinel article, sees between five and 10 patients each day as part of his duties with My Home Doctor, a Florida-based physician group that treats non-emergency medical conditions. Many of the group’s patients are on Medicare, and without the visits, might end up in the emergency room, which can run thousands more per patient than a home visit.

House calls, which were once thought to waste too much time and money, are back in favor as health care providers recognize that, especially for seniors, house calls equal smart preventative medicine. According to government figures, Medicare-paid house calls have been on the rise, and thanks to portable technological devices, medical records and other information can be accessed from anywhere.

A federal pilot program, Independence at Home, will soon encourage doctors to see their sickest patients in the comfort of their own homes. Part of the health care reform law, the three-year program will include 10,000 “medically fragile” Medicare patients when it begins in 2012.

For more on senior health care, see:

Pilot program keeping seniors out of hospital

Medicare report: Free wellness visits going begging

Medicare math 101: The numbers just don’t add up