The home has become a much more crowded site of care in recent years, as home-based primary care providers and hospital-at-home programs have moved alongside traditional home health and personal care services companies.
That trend is likely to continue moving forward, especially when it comes to home-based primary care.
Nearly 56% of patients prefer doctor house calls compared to emergency rooms and urgent care centers when in need of medical attention, findings from a new survey conducted by Los Angeles-based technology startup Heal suggest.
More than 6,000 first-time Heal patients participated in the survey, released on Thursday.
“The main takeaway from these stats is that doctor house calls [can be] a transformative vehicle to lower health care costs and improve outcomes,” Heal CEO Nick Desai told Home Health Care News in an email. “Every dollar in proactive care saves $13 in health care costs, so it has a substantial impact on costs, but also on the outcomes and convenience and comfort for the patient.”
Launched in 2014, Heal delivers doctor house calls to patients in California, parts of Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The startup — which has raised more than $71 million in overall funding — also expanded to the Atlanta market in January with the backing of insurance giant Aetna.
“Heal is growing in a number of areas,” Desai said. “Atlanta has done well with us both in terms of capitated, as well as fee-for-service patients. Heal is being extremely well received in the South because there aren’t as many health care innovations in some of those markets.”
In total, Heal has helped coordinate more than 110,000 house calls since its inception. Additionally, in 2018 alone, Heal doctors were able to identify 16,000 previously unknown chronic conditions in patients they visited, some of whom were at-risk older adults who may have had to migrate to other settings if their conditions remained unchecked.
“If a senior can get world-class care in their homes, then they don’t need to be in an assisted living facility and they stay out of the hospital,” Desai said.
Roughly 38% of survey participants said they would have waited an extended period of time to see their doctor or would have passed on seeking treatment at all if the doctor house call service was not available in their area.
About 33% of survey participants said they never wanted to visit a doctor’s office again.
Broadly, Heal’s promising survey results bode well in terms of future relationships with home health care providers, Desai said.
“We are in talks with a number of home health providers,” Desai said. “We view them as ideal partners, they view us as ideal partners. We have nothing we can announce yet, and we do hope to have an announcement in early April.”