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New Uber-Like Start-Ups Providing Medical House Calls

An article in this week’s Wall Street Journal looks at start-up firms that are providing medical house calls through an Uber-like model. The article features these companies offering on-demand visits to the patient arranged through an online app:

  • Heal serving San Francisco, Los Angeles and Orange County
  • Pager serving New York City and San Francisco
  • MedZed serving New York City and Atlanta
  • RetraceHealth serving Minneapolis, North Dakota and Wisconsin
  • True North Health Navigation [changing its name to Dispatch Health] serving Denver

Pager [using Uber] and Heal both dispatch a doctor or nurse practitioner to the patient’s home or office. RetraceHealth provides an initial video consult with a nurse practitioner and goes to the patient’s location only if hands-on care is needed. MedZed sends a nurse for the initial exam and then connects remotely to a doctor for a treatment plan. True North is offered as a lower-cost, on-location care option for 911 callers when they have a minor, nonemergency health issue.

The health care system Centura Health is collaborating with True North to reduce its emergency room use and to lower medical costs for employees and members of its health plan.

Visit charges cited currently range up to about $200, and may or may not be covered by health insurance plans. Some worry that these services will further fragment care and damage patient-provider relationships. Upon request, however, the companies will send reports to a patient’s primary care physician. One hospital ER physician interviewed indicated she enjoyed the extra time she could spend with a patient when working on a Pager shift.

A New York Times article earlier this year also looked at Go2Nurse serving Chicago and Milwaukee and Curbside Care in the Philadelphia area, both making house calls. Telemedicine apps providing virtual visits or consultations are also covered, including Doctor on Demand, Teladoc, American Well, HealthTap, MDLive, Spruce and Maven.

Sources:

Beck M. Startups vie to build an Uber for health care. Wall Street Journal, Aug. 11, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/startups-vie-to-build-an-uber-for-health-care-1439265847

Jolly J. An Uber for doctor housecalls. New York Times Blog, May 5, 2015. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/05/05/an-uber-for-doctor-housecalls/

Related books:

Wachter R. Digital doctor: hope, hype, and harm at the dawn of medicine’s computer age. McGraw-Hill Education, April 1, 2015. http://www.amazon.com/The-Digital-Doctor-Medicines-Computer/dp/0071849467

Topol E. The patient will see you now: the future of medicine is in your hands. Basic Books, Jan. 6, 2015. http://www.amazon.com/The-Patient-Will-See-You/dp/0465054749/ref=pd_sim_14_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0N4GNJHP11JZ3FHF3XJ3

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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