Bringing the Emergency Room to the Living Room

Today’s healthcare system is nothing short of broken. And for aging adults, those with acute or chronic medical needs, and people struggling to keep a roof over their head, an unexpected and expensive trip to the emergency room can push them over the edge.

So what gives? Can such a deeply fragmented system be repaired?

Luckily, one company is doing its part to transform healthcare for the better by bringing ER-level care into the home. Technology advances and innovative medical models have made “house calls” a household name once again. DispatchHealth treats many acute conditions in the home instead of forcing an expensive and traumatic trip to the ER. It’s a convenient, comfortable and safe alternative for patients.

Seventy percent of ER tools and technologies now travel to patients

In addition to treating acute health problems, DispatchHealth can prescribe medications, take blood tests and suture wounds. Each medical kit brought on-site contains roughly 70 percent of the tools and technologies found in an ER, allowing the medical team to perform a variety of advanced tests and lab treatments, including a 12-lead EKG, IV fluids, placing catheters and more. 

Diagnosis and treatment is standard for such acute conditions as cuts, sprains, simple fractures, flu, urinary tract infections, migraines and nosebleeds. Chronic conditions like COPD, diabetes, depression, hypertension, cancer, high cholesterol and more can be assessed and addressed as well. DispatchHealth calls in prescriptions and updates the patient care team as part of standard operating procedure.

Notes DispatchHealth Chief Marketing Officer Andrea Pearson: “Technology allows us to take a lot of our capabilities as caregivers and move them back to people’s homes, where they are more comfortable. It’s less expensive, and they tend to have a much better outcome. That is true particularly for an older patient with a complex health history.”

After riding along with DispatchHealth’s medical teams, Pearson recaps her experience in a DispatchHealth blog post, stating “Today I witnessed three people who lacked access to healthcare actually get sophisticated, human-to-human care. By spending an hour administering care in someone’s most intimate space at home instead of 10 minutes in a clinic, providers are able to identify social determinants — like social isolation or economic stressors — that may be contributing to the patient’s physical symptoms. We offer the same care in the family room of a multi-million dollar home as we do in a one room, low income apartment or assisted living facility.”

Healthcare systems benefit across the board

Overall system and individual costs are both substantially reduced by DispatchHealth house calls that eliminate unnecessary ER trips and possible subsequent hospitalization. Everyone involved in a patient’s care—from primary health care providers and specialists to family, friends and other support systems—benefits from quality care that promotes ongoing good health.

The “spiraling down” effect of repeated ER and hospital visits, especially damaging to the chronically ill and seniors, is eliminated by treating people in place.

CNN report discusses the need to reduce hospital visits: “‘The older you are, the worse the hospital is for you,’ said Ken Covinsky, a physician and researcher at the University of California, San Francisco division of geriatrics. ‘A lot of the stuff we do in medicine does more harm than good. And sometimes with the care of older people, less is more.’”

Nearly $700 billion is spent on hospital care annually. DispatchHealth is putting a major dent in this figure. In fact, DispatchHealth is expected to deliver 90,000 patients nationwide in 2019, helping to improve outcomes across a spectrum of care needs and save an estimated $100 million in medical expenses.

A Motley Fool investment magazine article dramatically demonstrates how quickly individual costs can escalate—especially because of procrastinating: “A nasty cut on your leg might cost you a $25 doctor visit and a $10 bottle of antibiotics. But if you ignore that cut and it gets infected, you could wind up with a $1,200 ER bill.”

A DispatchHealth visit vastly reduces out-of-pocket costs. Those with commercial insurance and Medicare generally incur an out-of-pocket cost ranging from $6-45.

Dr. David Feinberg, CEO of Google Healthcare and former CEO of Geisinger Health, frames this discussion in a 2018 beckerhospitalreview.com article: “I would say to those of us in this business who think we need to hang onto those bricks and mortars that we’re going to start looking like Blockbuster Video. Netflix is coming. I think the bricks and mortars are an asset that we need to get rid of as quickly as possible.”

Dr. Eric Topol, American cardiologist, geneticist, and digital medicine researcher, points out in a 2015 NPR.org article: “The hospital is an edifice we don’t need except for intensive care units and the operating room. Everything else can be done more safely, more conveniently, more economically in the patient’s bedroom.”

Healthcare is finally taking a step in the right direction. And by spending an hour in someone’s home instead of 15 minutes at a busy clinic, patients have an improved healthcare experience, which is reaffirmed in a handful of DispatchHealth patient reviews.

So the next time you or a loved one wind up sick or injured, request a house call from DispatchHealth via phone, mobile app or online

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About the Author
DispatchHealth Staff The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.