Updated: October 8, 2013 at 11:20 am
The house call has returned to Colorado Springs, and while it may not be a doctor who shows up at the door to your home or even your office, the person who does appear will be able to provide treatment for a variety of health problems.
Noel Boyce, a registered nurse, is founder and chief executive officer of Urban Mobile Health, which opened for business last week. The company combines personal visits, teleconferencing and Internet technology to work with an off-site nurse practitioner to diagnose and prescribe medications for colds, the flu, sore throats and other nonemergency health issues.
Boyce said his business aims to keep people from losing time in waiting rooms and weekend clinics by bringing medical care to their home or office at their convenience.
"If you are at the office and being productive, you don't want to leave and lose two hours," he said.
There are at least two other medical services in Colorado Springs that make house calls, but they're not open to everyone. One visits only retirement and assisted living homes; the other is a medical concierge practice that makes house calls just to its members.
There is one restriction on Boyce's business: He does not accept insurance because, he said, it would add to the cost of his service. Rather he charges a flat $79 per-visit fee - a rate he landed on after market research showed most people paid between $60 and $100-plus for office visits or co-pays.
"We've set our price-point well below the average co-pay to get in to an urgent care facility," Boyce said.
The idea for his mobile health care unit came to him while he was in nursing school. He and friends were talking about how technology has allowed doctors to treat people in Third World countries. Using the same technology here seemed only logical, he said - and it comes into play in his new enterprise.
He drives to patients' homes or offices in his car, toting a backpack filled with a laptop, iPad, medical equipment and other items necessary to treat patients.
He then confers with nurse practitioner Kathy Willemyns via phone and the Internet to discuss symptoms, review images, if necessary, and discuss diagnoses. They work within the confines of their state-issued licenses, he said. For example, he can't prescribe medications, but Willemyns, who has 30 years in the health care field, can.
"Willemyns is able to take her independent license and provide a final diagnosis for patients, as well as prescriptions, if needed."
He said Urban Mobile Health isn't trying to replace doctors but "supplement their services" with a more user-friendly schedule.
"Mothers seem to be eager to use us, and not have to schedule time in clinics on the weekends or during school hours," he said.
Boyce was working for a local investment management firm a few years back when a trip to the emergency room changed his choice of careers. During his visit, he was treated by a male nurse who shared his experiences with helping people.
"That particular experience in a nursing room made me feel as if I was not getting enough from my own life," Boyce said, "I felt I needed to do more for myself and other people."
Boyce went back to school in 2010 and graduated with a bachelor of science in nursing from Colorado State University a year later.
Although he continues to work in a Pueblo hospital's emergency room, he said he is able to see eight to 10 patients a day through Urban Mobile Health, and will arrange for Willemyns to visit patients when he has a scheduling conflict.
For more information on Urban Mobile Health, go to www.urbanmobilehealth.com.
Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275