Innovator Interview: Jonathan Hand, Virginia Market Director for DispatchHealth

I recently had the opportunity to discuss innovation with Jonathan Hand, the Market Director in Richmond for Dispatch Health.  DispatchHealth is an organization allows patients to request care via the DispatchHealth app, online, or a phone call.  For more information on the DispatchHealth’s innovative work to increase access to healthcare for Virginians and their strategy to meet today’s technology-dependent population, please read below or visit https://www.dispatchhealth.com/.

What is your role at DispatchHealth, and what are your responsibilities in that role?

My name is Jonathan Hand and I am the Market Director for DispatchHealth in Virginia.  I oversee operations, community relations, business development, and the overall patient experience.

How would you explain DispatchHealth to someone who is not familiar with the organization?

DispatchHealth is on-demand urgent care that is bringing high quality healthcare to the comfort of your own home, workplace, or location of need.  We are truly “bringing back the house call!”  We deploy emergency room trained nurse practitioners or physician assistants on the ground with support from medical technicians and a virtual ER physician, who is always available via phone during hours of operation.  Our medical teams are equipped with all the tools necessary to keep patients safely out of the emergency room while at the same time providing a world-class experience.  Sit back and relax.  DispatchHealth comes to you!

What would you say the general problem DispatchHealth is trying to solve is, and how have you sought to solve that problem?

We understand the struggles that individuals have with accessing the right level of care at the right time.  Unnecessary trips to the emergency room are happening at an alarming rate, in fact recent studies show 37% of visits to the ER are deemed unnecessary, which if removed could save our healthcare system billions of dollars.

DispatchHealth is focusing on increasing access, providing high quality care in the home, and enabling up front clinical screening that helps the patient make informed healthcare decisions.  When DispatchHealth services are requested by phone, web, or by our mobile app our “clinical support center” risk stratifies the patient up front to help determine the proper level of care needed.  If deemed a clinically appropriate visit for DispatchHealth, we arrive on scene in a vehicle with a high level of expertise and an extensive amount of clinical equipment to safely treat patients in the comfort of their home. We will also make sure we are coordinating our care with the patient’s care team, including the primary care physician, to maintain continuity of care.

What types of conditions does the DispatchHealth medical team treat, and what is the process for referring patients who might be more acute than treating on site allows?

We treat a wide range of injuries and illnesses, from common to complex.  DispatchHealth can treat just about anything that can be seen in an urgent care center as well as a few more things. Conditions we commonly treat may include:

  • Urinary tract infections or urinary retention
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Lacerations
  • Influenza
  • Migraines
  • Minor trauma (sprains, strains, minor fractures)

We also can perform a wide range of procedures including administering IV fluid, medications and antibiotics, place catheters, cauterize and pack nosebleeds, splint injured extremities, and point of care diagnostics (labs, EKG, rapid infectious disease testing)

Upon initiating every DispatchHealth visit the patient is clinically screened using the DispatchHealth clinical support center and its proprietary screening technology, which allows our team to immediately recommend the ER if deemed necessary.  If uncertain we connect the patient to one of our ER trained NPs, PAs, or physicians to further discuss the clinical presentation to determine if we are appropriate or not for that given case.

What is DispatchHealth doing to expand access to all Virginians?

Currently we are only operating in Richmond, but we are looking closely at other areas to provide this much needed service across the Commonwealth of Virginia in the near future.  We are contracted (in network) with all major payers including Medicare, Medicaid, and most commercial payers.  DispatchHealth bills insurance directly for services rendered and visits are typically billed as “urgent care.”  Uninsured patients will receive a flat rate per episode for all care delivered. DispatchHealth currently services 9 other markets across the U.S. outside of Virginia.

How has DispatchHealth leveraged technology to execute its model of care?

DispatchHealth is a technology enabled service that builds software to optimize the consumer and provider experience.  It starts with making the consumer experience of requesting medical care easy by using web and mobile applications.  Patients are then on-boarded using our proprietary software to risk stratify them, perform real time eligibility checks to make sure we are a covered provider with the patient’s insurance, and then use a healthcare logistics platform to assign our medical teams to provide an accurate ETA for the patient.

On scene, our providers are utilizing the DispatchHealth engagement solution to document the encounter, including social determinants of health, and allow for clinical operations to flow smoothly in the home, such as e-prescribing medication to the patient’s pharmacy of choice and referring patients to the right provider using our network integrity product.

Our entire model is built on a technology platform to provide a patient centered experience from the initial interaction to the completion of the visit.

What has DispatchHealth achieved that you are most proud of?

I am extremely proud to be supporting a group of very impressive DispatchHealth providers that work extremely hard every day to support the ultimate patient experience.  I’m honored to be working with a group like this and seeing them make an impact on our patients’ lives is humbling to say the least.  We are changing the healthcare delivery model every single day and it starts with our providers on scene.

What are some barriers to getting patients on board with this model of care, and how have you overcome them?

With any disruptive, innovative model there will be barriers to entry.  We are working extremely hard to change consumer belief that the emergency room is the only answer.  That’s tough, right?  Everyone knows how to dial 911 and we are here challenging the notion that this needs to be the answer every time.  DispatchHealth is focusing on patient care, community partnership, and provider communication every single day to prove that healthcare does not have to be a confusing, fragmented experience, but rather a comfortable and safe experience in your own home.

For anyone reading this who might be interested in using DispatchHealth in the future, how do they become a patient?

Requesting care is easy!  We currently service the majority of the Greater Richmond Region and we can be accessed by phone at 804-495-0053, website at www.dispatchhealth.com, or by using our free iOS or Android mobile app.