FRND is the latest mobile-enabled house call service, but with a twist: nurses

By Aditi Pai
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FRNDNew York City-based FRND, a startup that has developed an app that allows patients to request a house call, launched in New York City last week. The company also has received funding from an angel round.

This is the latest in a growing list of companies to offer a doctor house call service, but unlike a few other apps on the market that offer a similar service, including Heal, Dispatch, and Pager, FRND sends a registered nurse, not a doctor to meet with the patient. And then, if the situation requires a doctor, the nurse sets up a video visit with one.

A primary reason the company chose to send nurses, FRND CEO Coleman Parry told MobiHealthNews in an interview, is that it's more affordable, but also because the system is similar to how it works in a brick and mortar doctor's office.

"You go to the ER, you go to urgent care, or you go to your primary care physician, the person that you see, the first line of defense, if you will, is a nurse, and then it escalates to a physician," Parry said. "And we feel that in the on demand world, it should work the same way. We want to be that last mile between telemedicine physician and the patient. So if we can bring a registered nurse to be the physician's hands on the patient while they're there, we can also scale that much more easily than sending a few physicians around the city or community. We can be there faster and we can see more patients."

Patients can request a number of services including urgent care services, IV therapy, and general nursing services. 

If patients want to make a call for urgent care needs, the nurse will arrive with the necessary equipment to measure the patient's vitals. The nurse will also bring other devices, including first aid supplies and rapid lab kits for strep throat, flu, and UTI infection. Some digital health devices they've already outfitted nurses with are the Kinsa connected thermometer and an AliveCor Mobile ECG. Once a nurse has determined the user's condition, they connect the patient with a doctor for a video visit in order to provide the patient with a diagnosis and prescriptions.

Nurses administer IV therapy and provide general nursing services, like helping the user recover from an injury, changing dressings after surgery, and providing IV antibiotics without the video visit with a doctor. FRND doesn't work with nursing networks, instead the nurses the company works with are contract workers that have found out about FRND mostly through word of mouth.

FRND said its prices are comparable to the average copay at a walk in clinic, which are between $79 and $129. The urgent care service as well as nursing care with FRND costs $99 and IV therapy starts at $175.

Since launching last week, the service has mostly been used for running rapid lab kits, but Parry believes in the future, its primary use will be for things like elder care, sending a registered nurse to a loved one.

"Say in the future when a lot of our parents, our generation's parents, will be living with us, and we are at work and they call up and they say, 'Hey, I fell, I think I'm ok, I just want to let you know,'" Parry explained. "This is a service by which you can say, 'Hold on, let send you a nurse just to come check you out. When that nurse get there they could escalate to a physician, or they can call you back and say 'Your mom is fine. Got a bump but she's going to be ok. We ran all of her vitals and she's going to be great.' This provides peace of mind for you and your parents."

Once the company is set up in New York, they will move into other regions, but not just big cities, Parry said. FRND will also move into rural communities that do not have too many nurses but might have nurses in the general area the company can work with.

Another service that is similar to FRND, called MedZed, raised $3.2 million for its doctor house call service earlier this month. MedZed employs care providers, ranging from nurse practitioners to licensed practicing nurses, who go to a patient's house to conduct a call with a doctor over a video visit. One significant difference is that the providers contract MedZed and use the service to communicate with their own patients, so it's not a direct to consumer service.