Startups, Hospitals

Denver-based DispatchHealth expands high-acuity home care service

The startup is focused on providing in-home care for mainly senior patients with high-acuity medical issues as a way to divert from costly emergency room visits and unnecessary hospitalizations.

Denver, Colorado-based DispatchHealth has launched its “ER-at-home” model into three new markets with the support of health system partners in Massachusetts, Washington and Texas.

The startup is focused on providing in-home care for mainly senior patients with high-acuity medical issues as a way to divert from costly emergency room visits and unnecessary hospitalizations.

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Patients or caregivers contact DispatchHealth through their smartphone app, website or phone call line and the company send over a home care team consisting of a physician assistant or nurse practitioner, along with a medical technician.

The team has the ability to perform laboratory studies, infusion, EKGs and some higher-level procedures such as the repair of complex lacerations.

“We strive to treat conditions in between the ER and true emergencies so COPD exacerbation, pneumonia, severe migraines and other issues we can treat it with IV medication along with severe skin infections and laboratory studies,” said Dispatch Health CEO Mark Prather.

Prather pointed to gap in cost between treating patients in the home versus transporting them to a hospital, as well as research that shows improved outcomes when clinicians can see patients in their home setting and develop treatment plans based on that context.

The company has partnered with health systems like Baystate Health in Springfield, Massachusetts, MultiCare in Tacoma, Washington and Centura Health in Colorado Springs, Colorado to help bring at-home medical services to their patients.

“Typically community care delivery has not been a hospital system’s main expertise, so they partner with us and we become the end community care partner,” Prather said. 

The relationship with hospital systems, as well as skilled living and nursing facilities help in getting word out about the company’s services and ensuring that providers can adequately triage the right patients who can benefit from DispatchHealth services.

At-home healthcare has also received recent regulatory support from CMS, which has experimented with home-based primary care models and approved reimbursement for home infusion services and remote monitoring technology.

”We’ve reached a tipping point with value-based care, where most everyone has decided that the genie’s out of the bottle,” Prather said,

While Prather said the company ideally operates in more of a managed care environment, it also accepts reimbursement from commercial payers and fee-for service Medicare. Patients can also pay a flat service fee of around $250 if they are uninsured.

Initially founded in 2013, DispatchHealth has raised more than $34 million from investors, employs 275 workers and now provides services in 10 markets around the country across eight states.

Prather predicts that eventually at least a-third of healthcare delivery will take place in the home.

His major focus for the future is building out DispatchHealth’s platform to ensure that the company has the logistics capability to connect the patients to the right care provider at the right time and the data infrastructure to incorporate social situations and dynamics with medical history.

Photo: jacoblund, Getty Images