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August 8, 2018

Call9: The Evolution of Emergency Care

When you’re sick, scared, and feel like a visit to your primary care physician won’t cut it, there’s the emergency room. While many of us take the ER for granted, the truth is that, for some more vulnerable populations (like those who live in nursing homes), the emergency room can be a harmful solution to medical issues.

“Bringing an elderly person to the emergency room can have adverse effects for their outcome. Not only are you putting them in a location that can be disorienting, but you are also exposing them to all sorts of illnesses,” said VP of Product and Process Design Jess Mink, who joined Call9 last October. “An emergency room, by definition, is home to all sorts of diseases, and a lot of elderly people have vulnerable immune systems, so it’s not an ideal location for them. If they’re able to receive interventions in their beds it’s much better for them.”

Moreover, the amount of time it takes to see a physician after calling 911 can be an hour or more, so if time is of the essence, wait times can result in some patients—especially, again, those in vulnerable populations—getting much worse outcomes.

Call9 is a Brooklyn-based company that exists to make it so nursing home populations can get emergency assistance without needing to leave their room.

Jess Mink Call9
Call9 VP of Product and Process Design Jess Mink.

The company was founded in 2015 by Dr. Timothy Peck, an emergency medicine physician who saw an opportunity to provide better patient outcomes and reduce the number of unnecessary trips to the ER.

“People would wait an hour from when they had their emergency to when he would be able to help them. And an hour is a really, really long time for a person to wait with certain conditions,” said Mink. ”That was a really big motivation to try to help people at the moment of their emergency, and try to take out that whole hour of calling 911, transferring, triage at the hospital, and likely hospital admission - and just get straight to the physician treating the patient from the bedside.”

Call9 offers its tech-enabled solution to nursing homes and rehab centers, which consists of multiple pieces to solve this problem:

  1. Clinical Care Specialists—highly-trained first responders—are embedded on-site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, to provide in-person support.
  2. Through a telemedicine solution, the patient and first responder connect with remote emergency medicine physicians.
  3. While many ER visits are made without context or records, a patient’s medical history is integrated into Call9’s platform for easy access by remote emergency doctors.
  4. A data analytics portion can look at trends in the patient’s medical data to see what causes an acute event and put preventative strategies in place to help people live happier, less-stressful lives.

As for the company’s business model, most of the cost is covered by insurance companies, while a platform fee is provided by the nursing homes to cover most of the expense of the on-site first responders. “Call9 makes sense in a value-based world where you’re looking at the entire patient and what’s going to generate the best outcome for them, and the ER is an incredibly expensive option that generates worse outcomes on many of the conditions we can treat in-place. Insurance companies really love it when patients are seen on our model,” Mink explained.

Call9

Call9 currently has approximately 190 employees spread out across American soil, which includes an Air Force base in Germany. A number work in the company’s Brooklyn office, while most are first responders, paramedics, doctors, nurses, and physicians assistants that exist as part of the platform’s function. On the success side, they’ve treated over 6,500 patients, and have grown 5x in the last year.

The company’s next step is growing even further. “The main thing we are focused on now is bringing this level of care to more facilities across the country. We have created a solution that is already making a significant impact on people’s daily lives. There are millions more people out there who could benefit from what we’re doing. Our main focus right now is making it so they can have that opportunity.”

As part of this expansion, they also plan on hiring across the company, including an expansion of the clinical and engineering functions.

Call9 is a company that is using technology to solve a critical problem in healthcare. Through their solution, they can not only reduce unnecessary transfers to the ER and save payers money, but more importantly, they have the potential to create large-scale improvements in nursing home patient outcomes. That potential is worth rooting for.


Alexander Culafi is a Staff Writer at VentureFizz. He also edits and produces The VentureFizz Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @culafia.

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