Humana teams up with startup DispatchHealth to expand in-home care services

A DispatchHealth clinician takes an adult patient's blood pressure
DispatchHealth sends emergency care-trained medical teams to patients' homes armed with mobile blood-work labs, IV fluids, nebulizers, and most of the standard equipment found in emergency rooms, to diagnose and treat patients. (DispatchHealth)

Humana is ramping up its investment in home-based healthcare services.

The insurance giant is teaming up with DispatchHealth to provide Humana members with access to hospital-level care in the home. These services will be available in Denver, Colo., and Tacoma, Wash., with expansion to additional markets in Texas, Arizona and Nevada planned for later this year, the companies announced Monday.
 
The agreement will provide members living with multiple chronic conditions—such as cellulitis, kidney and urinary tract infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure and many others—an opportunity to be treated safely at home and thereby avoid hospital visits.

Last November, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a waiver program to allow qualified health care providers to offer acute, hospital-level care in the home. According to the companies, it represents the first program in the U.S. to provide hospital-level care involving a national payer.
 
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 56% of adults age 65 years and older have two or more chronic conditions. Research has also shown that 63% of U.S. adults prefer to receive care at home.

RELATED: With rising demand for in-home care, DispatchHealth scores $136M round backed by Optum Ventures
 
“The agreement enhances Humana’s holistic approach to patient care and empowers clinicians to go beyond traditional clinical treatment,” said Susan Diamond, president of Humana’s home business in a statement. “Humana and DispatchHealth are focused on improving the overall home care experience and health outcomes by allowing individuals to remain at home while also empowering the medical team to identify and address patient needs, including social determinants of health.”
 
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Humana has seen a substantial increase in demand for in-home care. Some members—especially older adults with multiple chronic conditions—are seeking care at home to reduce their chance of exposure to the virus.

Humana members who meet the clinical admission criteria will have access to an on-call dedicated DispatchHealth medical team, which includes an internal medicine trained physician with ER experience, and a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. Patients receive 24/7 physician coverage with remote monitoring, an emergency call button, and daily visits from DispatchHealth’s medical team, including bedside nursing, the companies said.

Mark Prather, M.D., and his partner Kevin Riddleberger launched DispatchHealth in 2013 to combine mobile technology with an old-school service: the house call.

RELATED: Humana to make $100M investment in home health startup Heal

Launched in 2013, DispatchHealth provides technology for clinical care and coordination of other critical services, such as pharmacy and meal deliveries, physical and respiratory therapy, durable medical equipment (DME) access, and imaging services.

Dispatch sends emergency care-trained medical teams to patients' homes armed with mobile blood work labs, IV fluids, nebulizers and most of the standard equipment found in emergency rooms to diagnose and treat patients.

Humana has been increasing its investments in primary care and in-home medical care services. The insurer backed DispatchHealth's $135.8 million Series C financing round back in June. Humana also invested $100 million in health heath startup Heal. That investment aims to expand the platform’s reach into new geographic regions such as Chicago, Houston and Charlotte, North Carolina, to align with the insurer's Bold Goal population health initiative. 

DispatchHealth says it has delivered high-acuity care to over 220,000 patients in the home and saved over $227 million in medical costs. DispatchHealth offers on-demand care services to treat simple to complex injuries and illnesses in 29 cities and is rapidly expanding to additional cities across the country. 

“Now, more than ever, it is critical that our most vulnerable patients have access to care and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions,” Prather, DispatchHealth's CEO, said in a statement. “Our Advanced Care services safely provide in-home medical care for acutely ill patients requiring multiple days of treatment. The natural link between our on-demand service offering and Advanced Care delivers on the vision of a hospital-like setting without walls. We look forward to expanding our relationship with our forward-thinking partner, Humana.”