In June 2019, Valley Health System entered a partnership with DispatchHealth, a nationwide on-demand healthcare company, to deliver quality urgent care to northern New Jersey residents in their homes.
The service has been treating a wide range of patients from children to the elderly and a wide range of common to complex illnesses and injuries, such as respiratory infections, fall injuries, the flu, sutures and more, all within a patient’s home. The service has helped to reduce unnecessary ER visits and hospitalizations, improved clinical outcomes, and decreased costs for the health care system.
Our Children followed up on DispatchHealth with Dr. Carlton Stadler, MD, FACEP, the DispatchHealths regional medical director east.
Our Children: Since its inception in 2019 what has been the success of DispatchHealth?
Dr. Carlton Stadler: DispatchHealth started serving patients in Colorado in 2015. In June of 2019, we entered New Jersey to open our Ridgewood location in partnership with Valley Health System. Creating opportunities for families in the communities we serve to receive high-quality medical care at a more affordable price is one of the cornerstones of our organization. Since we began serving the Ridgewood market, we’ve accumulated over $14 million in potential medical costs savings for our patients. Then in August of 2020, we expanded our New Jersey reach and opened a second location in Morristown. Our success has centered around our coordinated efforts to work with our partners in New Jersey to deliver exceptional care to the community. As a result, we have cared for many patients and work closely with Valley HealthCare System and others to drive excellent outcomes.
Our Children: Covid-19 must have had a great impact on the service. Can you describe what that has been like?
Dr. Carlton Stadler: Our patient volumes have doubled year over year since we started, and that doubling has primarily been independent of Covid. However, Covid has assumed a prominent role in our subset of patients with infectious respiratory ailments. Twenty percent of our volume comprises patients with respiratory infections. That was the case pre-pandemic and continues to be the case. Almost the entirety of respiratory illness in 2020 was the result of Covid infections. Influenza was virtually non-existent, and public health measures minimized other respiratory infections. It’s too early to tell, but we suspect an equal spread between Covid, influenza, and other respiratory infections in 2021.
Our Children: When it comes to pediatric or adolescent patients, what is DispatchHealth able to deliver?
Dr. Carlton Stadler: Starting as young as 3 months old, DispatchHealth can assume the emergent medical needs of pediatric patients. The same moderately complex lab, portable ultrasound, and in-home imaging we have for adults are brought to the bedside of our youngest patients for testing to direct and impact the plan of care immediately. One important thing about the care we can deliver to pediatric and adolescent patients is the specialized training of our care teams, who all have emergency medicine training. Our providers understand children are not little adults and that they require age-specific care. As a result, we can take care of everything from electrolyte needs to digestive, heart, lung, and rapid infectious disease testing for things like RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and Covid-19 for our younger patients.
Our Children: Can you share an incident where DispatchHealth was invaluable in a pediatric or adolescent case?
Dr. Carlton Stadler: Because we come into the home to provide care, DispatchHealth can identify social determinants of health — these are the economic and social conditions that impact wellbeing. This unique ability gives us helpful insight, particularly with our younger populations. One specific example I can think of is a mother and her four children, all under 8 years old, who became sick with upper respiratory issues. To take the entire family to the emergency room, where they might have had to wait for hours, would have been extremely difficult and stressful. And if they only brought one child, the treating physician would not have known about the other three who were likely going to become sick with something similar. It turns out RSV was running through the house, and because we were in the home and saw the entire family, we not only tested and treated the sickest of the bunch, their 2-year-old, but we were also able to test the other children and get ahead of their illness.
Our Children: What are the recommendations following a visit from the medical professionals at DispatchHealth?
Dr. Carlton Stadler: We believe we are part of a more extensive care system. We are not primary care providers; we are not specialists. Instead, we are an extension of those offices. We take pride in coordinating the care of our patients back into their defined system of care that manages their overall health and wellbeing. This is unique to DispatchHealth. As for post-visit recommendations, our teams send visit notes directly to that patient’s doctor. We recommend they follow up with their primary care physician to coordinate ongoing care if that is what is needed. If it is a one-time episode, we want to get whatever medical treatments we administered included in the patient’s medical record for future reference.
Our Children: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Dr. Carlton Stadler: Injuries and illness can cause anxiety for all ages, but especially children. The ability to receive care in the comfort of home is more convenient for families and helps kids relax — they do not need to wait hours and hours to be treated for something that we can address for them at home.