Housecalls Are Back and Booming. Are They a Threat to PCPs?
McKesson Ventures Senior Vice President Tom Rodgers was recently interviewed by Medscape, a part of the WebMD Health Professional Network that offers integrated medical information and educational tools to users.
The article released by Medscape discusses the current boom of startups offering medical housecalls, what they have to offer, if they are a sustainable business practice, and whether they create a threat to traditional Primary Care Providers (PCPs). Rodgers offers his personal experience as a father and professional expertise as an investor on the future of such startups.
Some current companies leading the way in this field include Heal, Mend, Pager, PediaQ, RetraceHealth—covering service areas including California, Texas, Minnesota, and New York.
Typically, these companies dispatch a physician, clinician, nurse practicioner (NP), or physician assistants (PA) to a location of the patient’s choice, usually a home or office. They carry backpacks equipped with medical equipment such an injectibles kit, suturing kit, otoscope, stethoscope, bandages, commonly-prescribed urgent-care medications, nebulizer, and a cauterizer—though this varies by company.
Fees for these housecalls range from $50 to $199, with services varying depending on the company used. Patients typically get more time with a physician than in a traditional doctor’s office or urgent care, with the added benefits of lower cost and convenience as well.
The question, then, is whether or not housecalls are a sustainable and cost-effective business practice.
“At commercial payers and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the jury is still out on whether these firms lower costs to the system,” Rodgers says.
“If this model has any chance of working and scaling economically, you must get the recipe right,” Rodgers says. “For now, when people are spending venture dollars, that means focusing on topline growth and optimizing the consumer experience.
But very quickly you will need to show that the economics work.”