Mobile Med brings medical expertise to your front door
A little over two years ago, Ryan Cantzler M.D. and Jill Parak M.S., APRN, NP-C, and their neighbor Greg LaFontaine PA-C—all of them experienced emergency medicine practitioners and parents of young children—asked themselves a big question: “How can we make emergency medicine easier for our patients”?
“One of the answers was to go to their house, allow them to be parents, while the health care provider does what he needs to do, and then they all go about their day,” LaFontaine recalled.
“There are companies in California, New York, and Texas that have started at-home urgent-care types of businesses, but nothing in Ohio. I thought this would be a good idea for Columbus and the community,” he said. And the concept for Mobile Med was born.
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Mobile Med’s practitioners see adults and children for sore throats, flu, ear infections, back pain, rashes, lacerations, abscesses, dehydration, vomiting, and testing for common diseases including COVID-19. It sounds a lot like a grocery-store clinic or standard urgent care—except, in this case, the practitioner comes to the patient.
Cantzler is the owner, supervisor, and director of the practice, which has seven nurse practitioners and physician assistants around the I-270 perimeter. The practitioners take turns on shifts during the published weekday and weekend hours, working around their employment schedules and family commitments.
“I think since people don’t have to go to an urgent care center, and we can come to them, they’re a little more comfortable. We can even see them on their front porch or in their garage,” Parak explained. They can also consult sick patients through a glass door, to limit contact.
The team took on the startup challenges of insurance, billing, telehealth, and electronic medical records. “We had no business background,” Cantzler recalled. “We also didn’t know how to advertise. We had the product; we had the supplies; we knew how to write prescriptions and do exams, but we didn’t know how to get the word out.”
Billing, telehealth, and electronic records were solved with software packages, and a third party marketing service is helping to spread the word around the city, but the group still does not take insurance.
Often, an insurance co-pay and deductible are more costly than Mobile Med’s services. “Health care traditionally costs so much because of things like malpractice insurance and the facility,” Cantzler explained. “There has to be a doctor on staff; there has to be a brick-and-mortar place. And then there’s all the extra costs. A laceration kit that costs $35 becomes $135 on your bill.
“What we wanted to do was provide service on par with what we give in other facets of our lives, but do it at a lower cost. Greg can be at the gym, and take a call, and say ‘I’ll be there in 45 minutes.’ Those savings are not going to us; they’re going back to the patient.”
The team uses their expertise not only to treat patients, but also to triage and refer calls to the correct care system. “If we start talking to [someone] on the phone, and they have a problem that seems complex, or a true emergency, we’re absolutely comfortable passing them on to their primary care physician or to an emergency department,” Cantzler explained.
The one thing Mobile Med doesn’t have is an X-ray machine, so many orthopedic calls will get referred to urgent care. “And if you’re 92 with dizziness and high blood pressure, we will recommend you go to the emergency room, because that’s where you’ll get the most appropriate care,” LaFontaine continued.
Most of Mobile Med’s patients are the children of busy parents. Cantzler noted, “The great thing is that a mom or dad can take a photo of a laceration, send it to us, and say ‘is this Band-Aid or something more?’ And in 15 minutes, we can give them an answer.”
Lyndsey Dudley, of Worthington, has utilized Mobile Med twice for her children’s infectious disease concerns.
“I had two little kids; my husband was at work, I really didn’t want to take them both into a sick appointment and potentially get the healthy one exposed—especially during COVID,” she said.
Both times, a practitioner was at her house within 30 minutes. “That’s the thing that I think is just so amazing,” Dudley continued. “If you have to go in for a sick appointment, you know, that can take hours. This is much more convenient. And they’re super, super thorough.”
LaFontaine, along with the rest of the team, plans to continue growing Mobile Med throughout Columbus and beyond: “We’re trying to change how it’s done, because health care doesn’t need to be that expensive.”
Find Mobile Med online at mobilemed614.com.