It's being called the "Amazon two-hour delivery" of health care.
The service DispatchHeath recently launched in Pierce County, and with a few taps on the app, or a call, it sends a nurse or physician's assistant right to your door.
First responders in the South Sound already say it could make a big difference on 911 call volumes.
“This is what we bring to every call,” said Robert Hoadley, a nurse practitioner with DispatchHealth.
“It’s like a very robust but very tiny ER that travels out to the patient,” said Karrie Austin, a spokesperson for the Tacoma location.
MultiCare Health System partnered with DispatchHealth and launched in Pierce and South King counties in December “to bring back the house call and offer short-term care for patients,” the company said.
Basically you can use the use the app, website, or call and order a team of certified clinicians to come to your house when you're sick. You can enter your zipcode and see if DispatchHealth services where you live.
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“On average we arrive within the home within 60-90 minutes from the time we're contacted,” Austin said.
The team of two loads up medical supplies into a “rover” unit and heads to you.
“We’re bringing back the house call,” Hoadley said. “And it's sort of reviving the past by being innovative and bringing it to the future. It keeps folks away from other sick people in the hospitals, emergency rooms, and allows you to stay at home where you're comfortable,” he said.
DispatchHealth in Tacoma connected KIRO7’s Deedee Sun with one of the patients it recently served --who happened to be Captain Darrin Shaw of Central Pierce Fire & Rescue.
“This is essentially the Uber Eats of medical,” Shaw said.
He called DispatchHealth to try it out after not feeling well a few weeks ago.
“I should've been home but I have a lot of work to do,” Shaw said. “I think had a sinus infection, just low grade fever, itchy throat, sore throat, sick,” he said.
“They actually came to the fire station on my lunch hour,” he said. “Just like a clinic, there's zero difference, gave me a shot of antibiotics, they were literally in and out in less than a half hour.”
He said otherwise, he would've gone to urgent care -- something he thinks would've taken triple the time.
“Having them come to your house is literally, I think, one of the greatest things, ever,” Shaw said.
Austin of DispatchHealth said she was previously an ER nurse for 17 years, and got a lot of patients who were elderly, bedridden or disabled. She said many didn’t really need the ER but had no other way to access care.
It's something the fire department sees every day.
“A lot of folks will call us -- 911 -- to come because they're sick or don't feel well. They may not have the means to get to the hospital or clinic or maybe they don’t have a doctor,” Shaw said.
They say this new service could lighten call loads.
“It’s going to save the firefighters time and resources, and leave us available for true emergencies, which is what we're here for,” Shaw said.
“This, I think, is the wave of the future. We've gone full circle,” he said.
The cost of the service is the same as your copay for a visit to urgent care or a specialist. Austin said usually that means free for Medicaid patients, or between $20-$50 for Medicare and commercial insurers.
The company said it can everything an urgent care center can, and can do stitches and set minor fractures. It can’t service heart attacks, strokes or certain behavioral health conditions.
DispatchHealth said it plans to expand and will next serve the Seattle area.
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