In the modern era of overworked doctors and packed waiting rooms, it’s hard to imagine house calls ever existed. But a group of urgent care doctors are bringing back house calls to provide more personalized and accessible health care.
“People want the ability to connect with the doctor. They want to feel special and have a good- quality interaction with a doctor, and not see one who blows in and out in 10 minutes and maybe their primary question wasn’t answered,” says Dan Cheek, MD and Park Hill resident who founded Yodel Health, a business consisting of nine doctors who provide urgent care to patients in their homes to avoid the hassle of making a trip into the doctor. All physicians are board certified and emergency medicine trained. They have full-time emergency department jobs and do this in their free time.
Cheek—a former EMT, ski patroller and member of the Mahoosuc Mountain Rescue Team—conceived the idea for Yodel Health in 2011 when he began to realize urgent care is very portable. In the past four years, the market for personalized care has exploded, according to Cheek. Several new businesses provide a doctor on call who can give advice on the phone or by video conference, but options for house calls are still limited. Yodel Health is one of a few companies in Denver.
To begin, a patient creates an account at yodelheatlh.com. (Yodel Health treats patients of all ages). The patient selects symptoms and requests a doctor. Similar to a Lyft or Uber service, an available doctor is located and gives the wait time until arrival. The doctor’s location is tracked on the way and the patient is notified when he or she arrives.
Doctors spend 30–60 minutes with patients, versus 5–15 minutes at an urgent care clinic. The longer visits give doctors more time to get to know patients and why they’re sick.
Each Yodel Health doctor has a bag (meticulously) packed with everything to treat and assess urgent care complaints—cuts that need stitches, strep throat, influenza, cough and cold symptoms, asthma exacerbations, sprains and strains and minor fractures, vomiting and diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and rashes and many other minor medical problems. Yodel doctors can also provide prefilled prescriptions or antibiotics and recommend a doctor for follow-up.
“I’m excited to bring back the human aspect of medicine,” says Dani Prunty Raeburn, MD and Yodel Health provider who lives in Stapleton. “I’m excited about seeing my neighbors and friends at the pool three months later and asking how a laceration is healing. I’m excited to see them doing well and their family growing and answer their questions. It’s more than the one visit, it’s the follow-up.”
Jeff Rickard, DO, Yodel Health co-founder and Park Hill resident, says the demand for one-on-one care is growing, but making it affordable is the challenge. “People do want this type of medicine so we’re trying to get into the area where people can afford it because we don’t want it to only be for rich people,” Rickard says. Right now they are targeting Stapleton, Park Hill, Cherry Hills, Cherry Creek and Hilltop. Yodel Health visits begin at $300, plus fees for lab testing and treatment. Fees are all listed online so patients know exactly what they’re paying for. Yodel Health currently does not accept insurance but hopes to change that in the future. For more information, visit www.yodelhealth.com.