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Traveling Flu Crew Brings Urgent Care Home

On demand care decreases frequency of urgent care visits


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Now even health care can be ordered and delivered. Denver-based DispatchHealth offers on-demand, mobile urgent care that flu sufferers and others can request via app or phone call. The company sends a two-person medical team of a physician assistant or nurse practitioner and a medical technician to your home, equipped to perform a rapid infectious disease test, administer intravenous (IV) fluids and prescribe anti-nausea medication and antivirals. They also follow up with the patient’s primary-care physician. 

DispatchHealth launched in 2013 and is now available in 10 markets, including Denver and Colorado Springs. The company has 200 employees, 100 of them in Colorado. 

The company notes that if patients stay home instead of visiting a clinic or hospital, it can help stem the spread of the flu virus. There also is substantial cost savings. “A lot of patients would otherwise go to the emergency room,” says Melanie Plaksin, the Colorado market director. “We are 80 to 90 percent cheaper than the ER.” 

Also significant is the bounceback rate, which refers to whether the patient visits the emergency room for the same symptoms within 30 days. “Nationally the rate is 20 percent, and as a company we are 8 to 9 percent,” Plaksin says. 

DispatchHealth is available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in most locations and accepts most major health insurance, as well as credit and debit cards and health savings accounts. 

While the Wall Street Journal called the concept “an Uber for health care,” Plaksin says the term should be “on-demand urgent care in your home.” In addition to flu, the team treats urinary tract infections, migraines, respiratory infections, sprains and fractures, the common cold, joint or back pain, and other maladies. Teams can also visit the person at work, if a private room is available. 

The company is also part of Centura Health’s network and provides mobile medical teams for patients looking for this high-tech house call. “It’s innovative,” says Andrew Gaasch, chief ambulatory officer of Centura Health. “The old-school model was you have to figure out how to come to us, so this is flipping the paradigm.” 

Gaasch says mobile urgent care is going to grow over the next decade. “We definitely see that’s going to continue to be an option for consumers,” he says. “They want to receive care in an environment where they’re comfortable, and we want to provide convenient whole-person care.” 

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Nora Caley

Nora Caley is a freelance writer specializing in business and food topics.

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