In eight short years DispatchHealth has undergone a transformation. It has grown from an in-home substitute for urgent emergency room (ER) care to a comprehensive model of care that now includes in-home hospitalization and in-home recovery care.

“Really, we’re trying to recreate that high-acuity system of care in the home,” DispatchHealth co-founder and CEO Mark Prather, M.D., told McKnight’s Home Care Daily.

Roughly 100 million people in 18 states now have access to DispatchHealth’s roving teams of nurse practitioners and medical technicians. The company specializes in treating patients with complex needs. As it expands its footprint to other states, Prather said partnerships with home healthcare, hospice and palliative care agencies that have access to those patients will be increasingly important.

“The home health nurses often receive an alert from a patient who has reached the top of (the nurse’s) scope of license. They would traditionally refer the patients to the ER. Instead, they can call us and we’ll safely keep the patient in the home,” Prather explained. 

Denver-based DispatchHealth is part of the rapidly expanding U.S. house call sector that includes VillageMD, Heal, and Doctor On Demand. Grand View Research values the sector at $460 million and projects it will expand at a compounded annual growth rate of 5% over the next six years. 

The companies in the sector differ in scale and have varying business models. DispatchHealth is among the sector’s largest and has relationships with most health insurance companies, as well as numerous health systems.

In March, the company announced it secured $200 million in Series D financing to build the largest system of in-home care. Since then, DispatchHealth has announced partnerships with hospitals in Florida, Ohio and Connecticut, as well as the purchase of a mobile imaging company to provide in-home radiology services. 

Perhaps the company’s most significant deal was the one it inked back in February with Humana. That partnership not only gives DispatchHealth access to Humana’s 20 million customers, but also to Humana’s 550,000 home healthcare and hospice patients through the recently acquired Kindred at Home. 

Prather speculates Humana’s vertically integrated model of care will be one that other payers copy.

“They are very progressive about care in the home, and in many ways they’ve been sort of the leader in reimbursement,” Prather said. “We worked closely with them to craft a reimbursement model that delivers on our promise of lower cost of care and their desire for that, while maintaining outcomes and improving them.”

Prather envisions a healthcare system in the not-too-distant future with hospitals providing surgical and intensive care services and companies like DispatchHealth providing emergency, acute and post-acute care.

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“The movement to the home is now inevitable and you’ll see more of the big players moving to the home,” Prather predicted.

This article originally appeared on McKnight's Senior Living