Technology is enabling startup companies to network healthcare providers that provide services in patients’ homes, much as Uber has networked drivers for transportation services, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Companies include Heal, which serves Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orange County, Calif.; Pager in New York City; RetraceHealth in Minneapolis; and Medzed in Atlanta. The startups bring to patients’ homes nonemergency medical care including giving flu shots, treating strep throats and stitching lacerations.
According to the article, such services are attracting venture-capital investments and partnerships from hospital systems seeking to reduce readmissions and unnecessary ED visits.
Services, prices vary
The companies operate in similar ways, but each has its own methods, according to the article. Heal charges $99 for a visit and promises to get a physician to your home within an hour. The physician is accompanied by a medical assistant, who also does the driving. Pager uses Uber to transport physicians or nurse practitioners, and charges $200 for a visit.
RetraceHealth starts with a video consultation with an NP for $50. If it’s determined that hands-on care such as a throat swab or blood draw is needed, an NP is dispatched to the patient’s home for a $150 charge. Advances in mobile medical technology make it easy for healthcare providers to bring medical equipment into the home, according to the article.
Medzed is linked with the Atlanta practices Harmony Pediatrics, Peachtree Spine Physicians, Northside Pediatrics and Carnegie Hill Pediatrics. The practices use Medzed to offer extended hours without having to keep offices open. Medzed sends a nurse to the home, and the nurse connects via laptop to a physician to discuss a treatment plan.
According to the article, most of the services do not accept insurance, but patients can pay with health savings accounts or submit out-of-network claims. The services carry malpractice insurance but low overhead keeps prices down, according to the article.
Such healthcare startups tie into trends such as growth of the sharing economy, in which technology connects providers and users.
To comment, email [email protected]