Mobile medical units treat patients from home, unclog ERs

An Arizona company is treating patients in the comfort of their own homes, when they would otherwise have to go to a hospital’s emergency department.

The company, Dispatch Health, uses three mobile treatment centers that can treat patients as young as three months old for a variety of ailments - everything from treating the flu to providing x-rays. Perhaps its most important innovation is moving the triage process outside of the hospital, thus conserving resources.

"We have our own proprietary software platform that we've built that helps us risk stratify the patient population,” said a representative from Dispatch Health, “our green scenario is we will go ahead and send a team out to your home. Yellow is we will have oversight with one of our PAs or physicians, and red we will send you right to the emergency room."

The concept was started by a doctor in Denver. A team, which includes a nurse practitioner and EMT, will travel to any home in a designated area. Each car has seven different medical kits inside of it, which allow the team to perform all of the functions of a standing urgent care clinic, and some of the functions of an emergency department.

For patients like Norma Ridley, who have used the service, the convenience brings comfort. "[It’s nice to] Have somebody when something happens to come immediately to take care of you in your own home, and you don't have to go to urgent care or to the emergency room and sit for six hours," she said.

The units are especially effective when it comes to the flu and other contagious conditions, because patients don’t need to go to a potentially crowded emergency department to get treated, and risk infecting others.

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