Major Nashville Hospital System Gets Into On-Demand Doctor House Calls

Dec 12, 2016

Call it the Uber of healthcare.

With the touch of a button on a smartphone, people in Davidson County can order a nurse practitioner to come to them within two hours. Some startups have already been experimenting with this model — including one in Nashville — but now Vanderbilt, one of the most prominent hospitals in the region, is joining the competition.

In some ways, this builds on the hospital system's existing resources: It has been doing doctor house calls for 30 years, checking up on patients who are recovering from surgery or having chronic issues. It's at times more effective than asking people to come into a facility, says Laura Beth Brown is president of Vanderbilt Home Care Services.

Vanderbilt OnCall is an app that allows patients to request a nurse practitioner to come to their home within two house
Credit Courtesy of Vanderbilt

"I think that people improve when they're in a setting that's familiar to them," she says. "Also, providing care in the home gives you insight into the whole picture of the patient."

But providing on-demand house calls, called Vanderbilt OnCall, is a new model for the hospital, and it targets a different kind of patient all together. These are people who want to see a doctor for one-time problems — they have a cold and think it's pneumonia, or they sprained an ankle, or they need medication for an infection.

For those who have internet access and $99 payable by credit card (no insurance option yet), patients don't have to wait in a doctor's office.

This gives patients a convenient health care option, says Brown. It also could alleviate some of the crowds inside Vanderbilt's facilities. 

"Our hospital is full on any given day. Our volumes are incredibly strong, and we needed to create consumer-friendly access points," she says.

Vanderbilt is not the first company in Nashville to experiment with this model. A company called Dose launched last year, joining a growing number of startups around the country doing doctor house calls. 

Dose's services have the same price point. It also accepts insurance, which Vanderbilt says it's working toward.