DispatchHealth Partnership Helps MultiCare Lower Its Total Cost of Care by $1,509 Per Patient

In 2018, home-based care provider DispatchHealth was enlisted by the health system MultiCare to reduce the overall cost of care in its network. The move immediately paid dividends.

In the first full calendar year of collaboration, DispatchHealth was able to work with Tacoma, Washington-based MultiCare to divert 65% of patients away from the ER, according to the company.

The partnership also yielded an average of $1,509 in savings per patient. Part of those savings were tied to DispatchHealth helping to screen for social determinants of health, something it did for 2,000 patients.

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Denver-based DispatchHealth works with payers, providers, health systems and others to deliver care in the home, deploying medical teams that are available seven days per week via a phone call or request via mobile app. Most patients with insurance pay anywhere from $5 to $50 for its services.

“Every local market’s health care is a little bit different,” Kevin Riddleberger, DispatchHealth’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, told Home Health Care News. “Whether you look at the savings that we’re able to generate, the net promoter scores or the clinical outcomes — it’s always satisfying to be able to see that we’re truly making a dent on the quadruple aim in each market.”

To advance its mission of diverting all sorts of care into the home, DispatchHealth secured $135.8 million in growth capital earlier this year — with Optum Ventures leading the Series C round. Since it launched in 2013, the company has raised over $215 million in funding.

It now serves 20 markets across the U.S. and plans to be in 26 by the end of this year. It will see about 165,000 patients in 2020 and has saved over $250 million in medical costs, according to Riddleberger.

On its end, MultiCare was founded in the late 1800s. Today, the not-for-profit health system remains deeply embedded in its Pacific Northwest communities. As part of its network, it has 18,000 team members and 10 hospitals.

“The primary goal early on was to decrease the overall cost of care, because we knew that we were going into a population health environment,” Christi McCarren, the senior VP of retail health and community-based care at MultiCare, told HHCN. “And we had to find alternative ways to care for people in the community and keep them out of the hospitals. That’s what started it, … and it’s become very successful.”

DispatchHealth’s intake algorithms are a great aid to putting people on the “right side of care,” McCarren said. Because of its reliability, there haven’t been any negative outcomes from people not going to the hospital when they otherwise should have.

New ventures

Normal examples of DispatchHealth’s services include teams delivering IV fluids for seniors dealing with dehydration or delivering cardiology-focused care when somebody is experiencing congestive heart failure exacerbations. A team usually arrives within two hours, according to the company.

But now that it has made its impression on MultiCare, the two health care organizations have higher aspirations for the future.

Initially, there’s the launching of “Clinic Without Walls” — a program that relies on advanced technology to provide “enhanced” virtual visits to at-risk patients living in facility-based settings.

But there’s also bigger fish to fry later on: DispatchHealth first launched its hospital-at-home program in December for Denver-based patients. MultiCare now wants to put a similar model to use in the Pacific Northwest, and the two are going in on a joint venture together.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m doing with them is a joint venture around hospital-at-home,” McCarren said. “We want to treat these patients at home in a safe environment.”

In the beginning, only a finite group of diagnoses will be treated in the model. Additionally, patients will still have to meet the criteria for hospitalization, McCarren said.

The ultimate goal of the model is to treat the most common issues facing the senior population when it comes to hospitalizations, such as heart failure, COPD and pneumonia, among a slew of other conditions.

“A 75-year-old with pneumonia, for instance, we’re able to now put oxygen right away onto that patient and admit them to our hospital-at-home service to provide ongoing treatment for them when they otherwise would have been transferred to the hospital,” Riddleberger said. “We can now keep that patient inside their home.”

DispatchHealth also provides up to 30 days of management after a hospital-at-home admission is through, Riddleberger said.

Usefulness during COVID

The partnership came at the right time. DispatchHealth has done a lot of work, in a variety of areas, for MultiCare during the COVID-19 crisis.

“They’ve helped us in so many ways,” McCarren said.

DispatchHealth has tested close to 6,000 patients in Washington, provided follow up and supportive care for COVID-19 patients and checked on and treated high-risk patients in the home.

The partnership also does not exclusively deal with seniors.

“This is a huge differentiator, to be able to say that you can treat people in their homes, and that it’s not just restricted to the senior population,” McCarren said. “For instance, moms with kids at home that don’t want to drag them to the ER when one has an ear infection, … you can imagine how useful having somebody just come to your home in that scenario is.”

The help that DispatchHealth has provided during the public health emergency will go a long way in proving the worth of the company moving forward, Riddleberger believes.

“The COVID-19 crisis, it has only put a rubber stamp on the value of delivering that care to patients — inside their home — in a safe [manner],” he said.

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