Virtual care company Included Health is teaming up with DispatchHealth to connect digital primary care to in-home urgent medical care.
The duo will supplement online care with in-home support to allow for the treatment of complex injuries and illnesses with the goal of reducing emergency department visits. Virtual visits will now be augmented with diagnostics including remote EKG or ultrasounds, administering of medications through IVs and nebulizers or offering CLIA-certified lab needs such as wound or catheter care.
“Connecting virtual-first care to a network of experts who can bring urgent medical services into the home is about serving people’s preferences and needs first, while also better managing the journey and cost of healthcare overall,” said Dr. Ami Parekh, chief health officer for Included Health, in a press release. “Working with DispatchHealth is an incredible extension to our service, one that will remove the friction, travel and stress associated with visiting a resource-strained emergency room or urgent care center and allow our members to be treated and recover in an often preferred setting – the home.”
Through the partnership, the enriched virtual primary care solution will connect Included Health’s primary care clinicians and care team with DispatchHealth’s team of nurse practitioners, physician assistants and emergency-trained medical technicians.
With DispatchHealth’s tools and technology, most non-life-threatening emergencies can be treated directly in the patient’s home, according to the Denver-based company. If a patient deteriorates, DispatchHealth is able to direct them to the appropriate site of care.
The in-home care provider states that care coordination is a priority with patients being “tucked back into” their primary care team for any additional support needed, the company told Fierce Healthcare.
“As an emergency room physician with more than two decades of experience at the bedside, I saw first-hand that much of the care in an emergency department could be treated just as effectively in an individual’s home and, in many instances, the added context of the social and environmental picture in the home could improve the precision of the care plan,” said chief executive officer and co-founder of DispatchHealth Dr. Mark Prather in a press release.
“With advancements in technology, high acuity care can be delivered in the home at a much lower cost with an enhanced care experience and improved outcomes. We are excited to add our high acuity, in-home capabilities to the capabilities of Included Health, a company that continues to push what’s possible with integrated healthcare," Prather said.
Included Health provides healthcare benefits and insurance navigation along with virtual primary care, behavioral health, specialty care and all-hour urgent care appointments.
A representative for the California-based company told Fierce Healthcare that all patients will benefit from a more comprehensive care package but for patients with chronic conditions, the partnership will hold additional value.
When patients with Crohn's disease or COPD experience a flare-up, DispatchHealth can be sent quickly to a person’s home to avoid lagging treatment. The new partnership, a representative for the companies told Fierce Healthcare, will help decrease the chance that members delay care. In this way, the offering fits well into a value-based care model by decreasing barriers to early treatment and ultimately decreasing costs down the road.
“Think of those moments when life throws a wrench in your world, making it hard or extremely challenging to obtain in-person care – perhaps you are suffering from an ear infection but also have a broken leg, or you have gastroenteritis and are too dehydrated to move around in your own home,” the representative said. “These are just a few of the scenarios that DispatchHealth could treat.”
Included Health recently announced a similar collaboration with Solv to connect virtual care to same-day, in-person appointments along with new payer partnerships with Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
At the end of last year, DispatchHealth teamed up with Blue Shield of California to roll out in-home services as a part of its Health Reimagined initiative.