When Dr. Ami Parekh, chief health officer of Included Health, thinks about the future of healthcare, she believes it’s all about integration.
“The more we can bring together in one place for the patient, the more likely they are to engage and then get better outcomes and for the purchaser, reduce the total cost of healthcare,” Parekh said in an interview.
That’s why the company launched a partnership with home care provider DispatchHealth on Tuesday. San Francisco-based Included Health serves employers and payers and offers culturally-competent virtual primary care, behavioral care and urgent care. Denver-based DispatchHealth offers urgent care and recovery care in patients’ homes.
The partnership will start by supporting Included Health’s customers in Phoenix, Denver and Seattle. When an Included Health provider is treating a patient virtually and notices that the patient requires in-person care at home, the provider can use DispatchHealth to deliver that care. DispatchHealth can provide support like home diagnostics, IV placements and acute care, said Dr. Mark Prather, CEO and co-founder of the company, in an email.
When a DispatchHealth provider visits a patient in the home, the notes from the visit will be shared via fax with the Included Health physician.
“It should feel seamless, like they’re seeing different parts of the same ecosystem and not going from one disparate part of the healthcare system to a different disparate part of the healthcare system,” Parekh said.
Offering in-home care is more convenient and cheaper than the alternative, she added.
“Oftentimes, we will see a patient virtually and know that they need to go in person, but the only option that patient has is an emergency room, which can be both far and inconvenient,” Parekh said. “There are [long wait times], it’s very expensive to both the patient and the purchaser of healthcare.”
Included chose DispatchHealth as a partner because it has experience in serving commercial populations, whereas many other home care companies often focus on Medicare populations. Parekh didn’t name these companies, but some include Homeward and MedArrive. The latter also serves Medicaid.
“[DispatchHealth] can do home visits for children as well as adults,” Parekh stated. “They can help if somebody is pregnant, which doesn’t happen often in Medicare, but happens a lot in the commercial population.”
In addition, a major focus for Included Health is providing culturally competent care, with programs serving the LGBTQ+ population and the Black community. Caren Misky, DispatchHealth’s chief of clinical practice and clinical education, told MedCity that there is also “an expectation that all our team members are culturally competent and treat people with respect and dignity.”
Included gets paid by the employer for its services, while DispatchHealth will bill a claim with the health plan.
In launching the collaboration, Parekh hopes to create an experience that is less fragmented for patients, less costly for employers and health plans and improves outcomes.
“[We hope] that people actually get better clinical outcomes so that they can actually get better from the flu faster,” she said. “They have more healthy days as opposed to sick days when they’re dealing with an illness. That will take a bit longer to measure but that’s really the ultimate goal, that we actually get people back to their normal lives as quickly as possible.”
Photo: metamorworks, Getty Images