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A few years ago, Leigh Picchetti's 6-year-old son scraped his thumb while playing on a trampoline. The Highlands Ranch mom bandaged her son's cut, but within a few days, it had turned green. She sent a photo to a friend who is a nurse practitioner and asked whether she should go to an urgent care or emergency room.
“She said don't do either, there is this new service called DispatchHealth that will come to your house,” said Picchetti.
Within an hour, a blue car with the company's logo arrived at her home, Picchetti said. A nurse practitioner and EMT inquired about her son's situation and took notes on an iPad before laying out a large, white gauze-like pad on a bench in the middle of her living room. They drained her son's infected blister, then sterilized and bandaged the area. She paid an urgent care copay of about $75, and her insurance, Cigna, covered the rest.
Gone are the days when a patient had to leave his or her house to receive medical care. DispatchHealth, a mobile urgent care, is a reflection of the direction society is moving — consumers want convenience.
“Convenience is the new quality,” said market director Melanie Plaksin. “It's life hacks, ultimately.”
Founded in 2013, DispatchHealth has eight cars that service cities as north as Longmont and south as Colorado Springs. Each vehicle is equipped with a robust technology network and a black briefcase filled with clinical materials used to treat common ailments: the flu, urinary tract infections, cuts, minor bone breaks, nausea, vomiting.
Patients sign up on the company's app or website, where they are asked to disclose their primary health-care information to provide a continuum of care. Once an appointment is requested, DispatchHealth calls the patient to determine if the service is the best fit. Within an hour, a physician and EMT are at the home, where they stay for an average of 45 minutes.
For Picchetti, her son's treatment took four or five minutes. The following day, she received a call from her son's pediatrician — who had been contacted by DispatchHealth — to schedule a follow-up appointment, Picchetti said.
“I was like, that is so full service,” said Picchetti. “It was just incredibly convenient.”
DispatchHealth tries to be transparent about cost prior to visits, team members say. The healthcare company takes several public and private insurances, which are listed at www.dispatchhealth.com/insurance-coverage. The average cost of care is $150 to $300 per visit, depending on insurance coverage.
“We are eight to 10 times cheaper than an ER visit,” said Dr. Phil Mitchell, vice president of medical affairs. “There is no comparison with cost and convenience.”
Being in a home setting allows physicians to get a better feel for a patient's lifestyle, Mitchell said. He has noticed that patients are more apt to open up about medical conditions or concerns when they are in a comfortable place.
“Health is how you feel,” said Mitchell. “It can be a very emotional thing.”
For parents like Picchetti, who also has a young daughter, the service trumps a visit to the ER. She's recommended DispatchHealth to everyone she knows, she said.
“It would never be my first choice to take my healthy kid or my sick kid to an environment that is full of germs and trauma,” said Picchetti. “(DispatchHealth) felt like customer service and I've never thought of health care as customer service. They were there to make sure everything was easy and as simple as possible for me, and as stress-free as possible for my son.”
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