[Home visits in German general practice: findings from routinely collected computer data of 158,000 patients]

Gesundheitswesen. 2007 Dec;69(12):679-85. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-993181.
[Article in German]


Introduction: Home visits are an integral part of general practice. However, information on this subject is lacking in Germany. Therefore we aim to describe the quantity of home visits, the target population and the workload for general practitioners on the basis of computerised data routinely collected in general practices.

Methods: The routine care data originate from 136 practices of the areas of Göttingen and Freiburg. Electronic patient records provided billing codes for home visits and consultations, patients' anonymous identification number, age, gender and ICD codes.

Results: 84 practices with complete datasets of 158,383 patients were available for the cross-sectional analysis in 2002. 12% of all patients required at least one home visit - significantly more elderly and female patients. Half of all patients visited at home requested one visit, whereas nearly 5% needed at least fortnightly visits throughout the year. 2/3 of all visited patients received an emergency visit. The quantity and nature of diseases also influenced home visit status. The workload of an average practice contained 9 visits per 100 consultations. 15 practices provided datasets between 1997 and 2001. In this period the total number of home visits declined. Within the same period, the target group has increasingly been restricted to old patients.

Conclusion: Old age, female gender, quantity and nature of diseases positively influence home visit status. Compared to general practices in other European countries, the workload caused by house calls seems high in this German sample. Over recent years the frequency of home visits has decreased. In view of the demographic changes, decisions will have to be made as to who will care for the growing numbers of old patients requiring home visits.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Family Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Germany
  • House Calls / statistics & numerical data*
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Workload / statistics & numerical data*