Jun 24, 2020

DispatchHealth’s in-home care model raises $136mn investment

William Girling
3 min
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Healthcare startup DispatchHealth has announced raising almost USD$136mn ($135.8mn) in its latest Series C funding round...

Healthcare startup DispatchHealth has announced raising almost USD$136mn ($135.8mn) in its latest Series C funding round.

Led by Optum Ventures the round also featured returning investors Alta Partners, Questa Capital, Echo Health Ventures, as well as new investors including Oak HC/FT and Humana Inc.

The company, which was founded in 2013 with the goal of creating an integrated and convenient platform for delivering high-quality, lower-cost care to patients in their homes, considers the utility of its service to be more relevant now than ever before.

Able to provide a vital lifeline for those with complex or extensive healthcare needs, DispatchHealth saves patients from having to travel to outside locations for treatment, something which, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, could lead to further health complications.

Its service is currently available in over 19 cities across the US, with capacity expected to increase imminently. Users can rest assured that they will get the treatment they need as DispatchHealth covers them 24/7 for 365 days of the year.

Delivering care to the home

Accessible via smartphone, tablet or computer, DispatchHealth is a well-equipped and fast service: within two hours of being requested, a trained medical team will arrive at the patient’s door.

“Approximately a third of the cost of the U.S. health care system is devoted to facility-based care delivery, such as emergency rooms, hospitals, and post-acute facilities,” said Dr. Mark Prather, CEO and Co-Founder of DispatchHealth.

“For seven years, our care model and technology platform have demonstrated lower costs and improved outcomes by delivering care safely in the home. Adoption has consistently grown, and our Net Promoter Score of 95 across our first 160,000 patient visits indicates high satisfaction. 

“We appreciate the support of investors, and look forward to working with them to continue executing on our transformational vision,” he added.

Extending healthcare beyond its parameters

Facilitating this service requires large-scale collaboration with other service providers on DispatchHealth’s part, including healthcare institutions, pharmacies and insurance companies within the US. 

It is the company’s ability to pool these separate entities together which enables such an efficient and successful service for patients. Larry C. Renfro, Managing Partner at Optum Ventures, commented that DispatchHealth was ushering in a new approach to healthcare.

“DispatchHealth is extending health care beyond traditional facilities to the most accessible environment of all: the patient’s home. We are excited to continue partnering with DispatchHealth to drive value and outcomes for the industry.”

In agreement with this assessment is Susan Diamond, Segment President of Home Business at Humana, who stated that the service recognised a trend of healthcare moving away from dedicated facilities and remaining in the home instead.

“Home is increasingly the place where people prefer to receive their care. This is especially true for older adults with multiple chronic conditions,” she said. 

“We believe DispatchHealth’s clinical delivery model can improve the overall patient experience and health outcomes by allowing people to remain comfortable at home while also empowering the medical team to more easily identify patient needs than they can in a clinical setting."

Image courtesy of DispatchHealth

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Jun 14, 2021

Long haul Covid, the brain and digital therapies

#longcovid
#digitaltherapy
#neuroplasticity
#covid19
4 min
Neuroplasticity expert Ashok Gupta tells us about the symptoms of long Covid, how it affects the brain, and digital therapies

It is estimated that around 10% of people who get Covid-19 develop long haul Covid, a debilitating condition that can last many months and cause breathlessness, exhaustion and pain. 

Research is underway to find out who is more likely to get it and how to treat it. Here neuroplasticity expert and owner of Harley Street Solutions in London Ashok Gupta tells us how the condition affects the brain. 

What is long Covid exactly? 

Long Covid is when patients who have experienced Covid-19 go on to have continuing symptoms for weeks and months afterwards. These symptoms can include breathlessness, exhaustion, brain fog, gastric issues, pain, and post-exertional malaise. It is estimated that around 10% of Covid-19 infections may result in developing long haul symptoms, and in the USA, this may be affecting over 3 million people.

How does it affect the brain?
Here at our clinic, we hypothesise that it is due to a malfunction in the unconscious brain, creating a conditioned response that keeps the body in a hyper-aroused state of defensiveness. At the core of this hypothesis is the idea that we are here because our nervous system and immune system have evolved to survive. We are survival machines!

When we encounter something such as Covid-19, the brain perceives it as life threatening, and rightly so. And in the era of the pandemic, with more stress, anxiety and social isolation, our immunity may be compromised, and therefore it may take longer for the immune system to fight off the virus and recover. 

If the brain makes the decision that this is potentially life threatening and we get to the stage where we’re overcoming the virus, a legacy is left in the brain; it keeps over-responding to anything that reminds us of the virus. Even if we’ve fought off the virus, the brain will react in a precautionary way to stimuli reminiscent of the virus. 

The brain may get stuck in that overprotective response, and keeps stimulating our nervous system and our immune system, just in case the virus may still be present.

What symptoms does this cause? 

These signals cause a cascade of symptoms including breathlessness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and many others. And these are caused by our own immunes system.

In the case of long-haul Covid, symptoms in the body get detected by a hypersensitive brain which thinks we’re still in danger. The brain then chronically stimulates the immune and nervous systems, and then we have a continuation of a chronic set of symptoms.

This isn’t unique to long-haul Covid. Many patients develop chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes known as “ME”, for example, after the flu, a stomach bug, or respiratory illness. Covid-19 may be a severe trigger of a form of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.

How does long-haul Covid affect mental health? 
Anxiety is a very common symptom in long haulers. It can be frightening to wonder about what may be happening in your body, and what the prognosis is going to be for one’s long term health. Reaching out for support for mental health is crucial for long-haulers.

How does neuroplasticity treatment work for long-haul COVID patients?
We have been working with patients for two decades with a brain retraining programme using neuroplasticity or “limbic retraining.” 

We believe that through neural rewiring, the brain can be “persuaded” that we are no longer in danger and to come back to homeostasis. But to be very clear, we are not saying it is psychological in any way, but we believe there are novel ways of accessing the unconscious brain. 

We recently worked successfully with a 56-year-old male with long-haul Covid, who prior to contracting Covid-19 in March of 2020 was running half-marathons and cycling, but afterwards he struggled to get off the sofa for months. Within 3 months he’s now back to 100% and  running half marathons again.

At our clinic, we train the patient to be able to recognise those subtle unconscious danger signals on the periphery of consciousness. This, coupled with supportive techniques and the natural hallmarks of good health such as sleep and diet help prepare the patient to respond to perceived threats that might trigger the response. 

The natural state of our brain is to default to protection. The brain prioritises survival and passing on our genes to the next generation, over any other impulse. It cares more about that than you feeling healthy and well. Protective responses are evolutionary, and are the right thing for the brain to do – it’s survival. 

What digital therapies or apps are proving effective at treating long-haul Covid? 
It seems that long haul patients are availing themselves of many online therapies and services, including meditation apps and wellness websites. We have an online neuroplasticity “brain retraining” video course called the “Gupta Program” which hosts 15 interactive videos and many audio exercises. This is proving very popular with long haul patients, and we are currently conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of this therapy. 

What is the danger of leaving long-haul Covid untreated?
The longer it goes untreated, we hypothesise that it may become more entrenched in the brain, and  become chronic in the longer term. Therefore we advise all patients to get help and advice as soon as possible.

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