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House Calls 2.0 Come Knocking

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, June 17, 2011

With that in mind, he started WhiteGlove Health in Austin, TX, in 2006. The gist of it is this: the company charges around $400 a year for its service, and $35 per house call. Patients see registered nurses or nurse practitioners (not physicians) who bring with them a care package of fluids, OTC meds and healthy snacks, and provide any needed prescriptions--outside of narcotics--necessary to treat the patient's illness. It's available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 365 days a year.

"Patients don't seem to actually mind about not seeing a physician," he says. "In many cases in primary care settings, you often will only see nurse practitioner anyway." 

Insurance, as you might guess, is not involved.

Companies, however, are. Many have agreed to pay the yearly membership fee because Fabbio's proprietary analytics (he is an IT guy, after all) show it's a good investment. About 46% of the company's visits are to workplaces—cutting down on absenteeism. In case you might think this is a passing fad, WhiteGlove is rolling out a chronic care service with essentially the same structure, and counts not only individuals as clients, but an impressive number of companies in the markets where it operates—currently Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, and Houston in Texas and in Boston and Phoenix. It may have added other markets as I'm writing this, but on the horizon for the rest of 2011 are: Tucson, Denver, Columbus, OH, Hartford, CT and Nashville. And, by the way, they've filed for an initial public offering to complete the build-out.

The point is not whether White Glove has a good idea or a sustainable business model. The point is that companies like this, whose leaders have little experience with healthcare, aren't letting that stop them. They're showing leadership and an innovative spirit, and they just might be horning in on what you've considered your territory.

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