Ever been so sick that the idea of bundling up, getting in the car and driving to the doctor is more than you can manage? Or have a hurt child on a Saturday night and really don’t want to go to the Emergency Room, but really need a medical professional to check them out? Back in the old days, doctors made house calls all the time, popping in to check on their sick patients, but that went away long ago.
Or did it? Turns out that a company called DispatchHealth offers on-demand Urgent Care where they come to your home rather than force you to wait for hours at an ER or Urgent Care. Even more amazingly, it’s actually much less expensive than going to the emergency room at a local hospital. A typical DispatchHealth visit is about $200 to $300, which is about a tenth the cost of an average ER visit. In fact, the company estimates that since their launch in 2013 they’ve saved our health system over $5 million by preventing unnecessary ER visits.
In many ways, modern health care seems like a highly predictable assembly line: you sit in the waiting room for an hour or more, then another 30+ minutes in the individual clinical room before you see a nurse who checks you out and then puts you in the queue for the doctor just to wait another 20+ minutes. The national average for time spent with an actual doctor at a visit is 15 minutes. That’s it. All told, most people seem to spend 2-3 hours waiting for just a few minutes with the actual physician, whether it’s an expensive ER or a clinic where you’re sitting with a bunch of, well, sick people. With DispatchHealth? The average time it takes them to get to your home is 1-1.5 hours, and they spend an average of 45 minutes in the home with each patient.
Having the medical professionals come to you seems like a terrific alternative and, believe it or not, DispatchHealth accepts all major Colorado insurance providers, including Medicare and Medicaid, and bill directly for the care provided. Oh, in case I haven’t mentioned it yet, at this point the company is only servicing the greater Denver area, but is expanding service to Boulder and Longmont on June 1, 2017 and opening a new office in Colorado Springs on May 1, 2017.
Their focus is on acute care (as opposed to primary care) and they are able to do everything an Urgent Care can do, plus more. They can perform stitches, staples, flu and strep testing, breathing treatments, blood draws, provide IV fluids, IV medications, write prescriptions, and much more. All right in the home. They work closely with the patient’s medical care team, including primary care physicians, specialists, hospice/palliative care, and nurse advice lines.
In our modern era, I was a bit concerned about how the DispatchHealth professionals stay safe when they’re driving around in a vehicle with all that equipment. Turns out that there are always two people in each vehicle – a provider and an EMT – and they are trained to leave any place that they feel is unsafe. Each vehicle has a quite sophisticated tracking system and each team has a safety tracking device, just in case.
The company uses a lot of data to measure success. One pretty interesting measurement is known as a 30-day bounce back rate. This measures the percentage of patients who end up going to the hospital for the same or related complaint within 30 days of initial treatment. Nationally the 30-day bounce back rate is a staggering 20%. DispatchHealth has a 5% rate, a far better value that speaks to the effectiveness of their care and the ability for people to heal faster at home.
The kids and I are healthy and haven’t had to visit the ER for years. Fortunately! But next time we have a need for urgent care, I might just pick up the phone and call DispatchHealth. It sure makes a lot of sense to me and I like that the future of health care might just be the provider coming to me, rather than vice-versa.
Learn more about DispatchHealth.com at their Web site or through their quick, informative YouTube video: DispatchHealth’s Care Experience. They’re available to provide care 7 days a week, including all holidays, from 8am to 10pm, and there’s a free mobile app too if you want the comfort of being able to request help right from your smartphone.
Disclosure: DispatchHealth sponsored this post, but it was because I was quite interested in what they’re doing to innovate health care delivery.