Tech-enabled house call service Dispatch Health will work with Colorado health system Centura

By Jonah Comstock
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DispatchDispatchHealth, one of the several recent "house call" startups that uses technology to send doctors or nurses to consumers' homes, has partnered with Colorado health system Centura Health to make its care available to some Centura patients in Denver, Colorado, where both companies are based.

“We have anticipated the changing health care landscape and are working to provide more services based on what consumers want when it comes to choice and accessibility,” Pam Nicholson, senior vice president of strategy at Centura Health, said in a statement. “We believe that care everywhere empowers people to make smarter decisions about their health and creates healthier communities.”

Unlike some other house call-type systems, which follow a direct-to-consumer Uber-like model, Dispatch works through local municipalities, 911 first response systems, health systems, payers, and senior care facilities. When consumers place a call to 911 or another channel where DispatchHealth is present, the company will vet the patient through clinical algorithms to determine if a DispatchHealth team can help the patient. If they can, then a medical team is dispatched in a car, which is staffed by acute care clinicians. The car is equipped with a CLIA-certified lab, medical equipment, medications and IVs, and WiFi connectivity.

DispatchHealth won't intervene with every patient -- just those that have treatable acute conditions including urinary tract infections, dehydration, minor fractures, asthma, constipation, nosebleeds, nausea, vomiting, or lacerations.

“DispatchHealth was designed to promote access to care, improve the patient experience and decrease the overall cost of care,” said Dispatch Health CEO Dr. Mark Prather said in a statement. “Care delivery solutions need to be convenient for both patients and providers in order to promote adoption and really move the needle. Our solution delivers ER trained providers to the bedside with the ability to perform laboratory testing, administer medications such as IV antibiotics, and perform procedures such as suturing. The solution has multiple applications for hospital systems including population management, service line enhancements and cost-effective delivery of acute care for at-risk populations.”

When Dispatch Health raised $3.6 million this summer, the company said it would soon announce its first hospital partnership -- likely the arrangement with Centura Health. Through the hospital partnership, they said at the time, Dispatch will help manage at-risk patient populations, and co-market services to self-insured employers.

Centura Health is a relatively early telehealth adopter -- its Centura Health at Home program began in 2004 -- so it's not surprising it's one of the first to work with a mobile-connected house call style business. In 2013, a Centura executive reported at an event that the company had managed a 90-percent drop off in in-patient admissions using telehealth. It's also the first provider group to roll out Welltok's Cafewell Concierge app -- powered by IBM Watson -- for its patients.