What exactly defines home care these days? The lines among the various service lines in the home are blurring to the point it’s almost hard to tell the difference between home care and something else. Take primary care. This traditional, long-standing service line barely resembles its former self as many companies are rebooting it and taking it to a new level: directly into the home.

One new example is Patina, which launched earlier this year and offers both virtual and in-person house calls. Chief Health officer Neil Patel, MD, talked to me this week and described  the concept behind this firm, which he described as a “relationship-based primary care company.”

“The way I think of it is that patients live their health, they live their illnesses, they make their decisions, they’re strongest, when they’re at home,” he said. “And so our goal is to really deeply build relationships, understand patients’ values, preferences and put them in the driver’s seat, from their table, from their living room, from their bed. That’s where they spend most of their time — in the home.”

The company, which is currently serving those 65+ in the Philadelphia market through Medicare Advantage plans, sees his company as offering a modern version of what you’d imagine house calls to look like a century ago.

“It’s very much possible in 2022 so long as we replace the sort of horse and buggy with some modern analogy like online chat, video visits, sophisticated software that maps our route and gets us to home with our medical bag when our patients need us the most,” he said.

Of course, the concept hardly seems the same when you are talking about clinician visits using remote technology, and Medicare Advantage, which is closely monitoring outcomes and cost.

But there’s no question a house call has inherent value today when it can feel impossible to secure time for a meaningful conversation with a doctor, and, for some, a trip to a primary care office can be arduous.

Fortunately, Patina is finding willing partners in home health, which are attracted to the access and convenience associated with this form of primary care, he noted.

“When you’re in the industry, your eyes light up when you get this message because you know that if you’re a home care nurse, who’s in the house on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, you’re struggling to coordinate primary care,” Patel said. “When you start to realize that this patient is on too much of their blood thinner and it’s really keeping them from making it up on the stairs safely, you’re resigned to leave a voicemail, you’re resigned to sending a fax.”

By all accounts, the world of home care is getting more specialized and more complex. Like a hospital or nursing home, there increasingly are various entities using the space. All the more reason, home care providers, to find your niche and play well with others.

Liza Berger is editor of McKnight’s Home Care. Email her at liza.berger@alicialasek.