Doctors Making Housecalls CEO: COVID-19 Has Placed an ‘Exclamation Mark’ on House Call Services

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Private equity-backed Eventus WholeHealth recently acquired Doctors Making Housecalls (DMHC), a home-based primary care provider. The deal further highlights the growing interest in home-based primary care seen throughout 2020.

Charlotte, North Carolina-based Eventus is a physician-led medical provider for residents and patients of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. Aside from North Carolina, the company operates in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Founded in 2002, DMHC is a Durham, North Carolina-based provider that makes 160,000 visits annually to homes, assisted living communities and individual businesses. The company is a multi-specialty group of physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

Once merged, the two organizations will have over 550 clinicians and employees. The company will provide primary care, specialty care and behavioral health in long-term care facilities — and in the home.

Currently, the combined companies have 42,000 patients across the five markets.

Eventus CEO Dr. Grace Terrell saw an opportunity in the “house calls” model, especially in light of the COVID-19 emergency. The acquisition will help Eventus expand its delivery of care and help control patient populations wherever they reside.

“Our mission is that we are providing holistic care for medically vulnerable adults, and [this population] doesn’t all reside in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities. Some of them are in independent senior care facilities — and, of course, the vast majority live at home in private residences,” Terrell told Home Health Care News. “We were quite interested in this before the pandemic. But particularly with the pandemic, it’s become clear that the ability to provide care to patients in their homes … needs to be expanded.”

DMHC is one of the organizations that has truly honed in on the home-based primary care model, she added. One of the main reasons the company was an attractive acquisition target for Eventus was DMHC’s long-time reputation.

DMHC is one of 15 organizations that was chosen to participate in Medicare’s Independence at Home Demonstration Project.

Launched in 2019, Independence at Home is a CMS Innovation Center model that tests the effectiveness of delivering primary care services at home.

“Look at the Medicare Independence at Home Demonstration Project. They had some of the best results in the country, in terms of superior quality and lowering the cost of care and outcomes,” Terrell said. “They are in North Carolina, where we obviously also have a large presence. We see the type of care they provide firsthand.”

Another distinguishing characteristic of DMHC’s practice is the role the company plays as primary care providers, according to Dr. Alan Kronhaus, CEO of DMHC.

“We become the primary care clinician for our patients, as opposed to seeing them, for example, for a limited period of time in the ‘post-acute space,’” he told HHCN. “We get to know our patients very well. We form a close relationship with them and their family. I think that has been instrumental in our ability to be effective, both in providing clinically excellent services and in our ability to reduce the cost of care rather dramatically.”

Indeed, Kronhaus credits a focus on what he called the “pre-acute” space and providing proactive primary care for DMHC’s ability to lower costs.

“If you’re focused on the post-acute space, which so many … practices seem to be these days, the horse is already out of the barn,” he said. “The real key to reducing costs and providing great services is to provide, what I like to call, proactive primary care. This keeps people on an even keel and avoids crises, which reduces unnecessary ER visits and hospitalizations.”

The deal expands DMHC’s ability to provide crucial services to complex older patients on a broader scale — tripling the company’s capacity to promulgate their practice model, according to Kronhaus.

Additionally, the acquisition allows both companies to combine support resources and operate more efficiently.

Moving forward, Kronhaus thinks the public health emergency has put an “exclamation mark” on the benefits of DMHC’s services that keep people away from doctor’s offices.

“Whenever a patient goes to a waiting room with a lot of other sick people, … they’re obviously exposed to various pathogens and are at risk for nosocomial infections,” he said.

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