For three months, Chaminade High School grad Dr. Tim Peck slept on a cot in the conference room of Central Island Healthcare in Plainview. He wanted to learn everything he could about nursing homes in order to create Call9, a program that allows doctors and patients to connect over a smartphone or tablet.
“This nursing home is where it all began,” Peck explained. “I didn’t know anything about nursing homes so I had to go live in one to understand it.”
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) stopped by the nursing home where it all began to see a demonstration of Call9. He toured the nursing home, spoke with patients and had a conversation over the Call9 service with a doctor based in Costa Rica.
“Great spending time today at Central Island Healthcare, where I learned about Call9, technology that is transforming elder care,” Suozzi wrote on Twitter later that day. “We need more of this.”
A few years ago, Peck was working as an emergency care physician who was frustrated with how long it took for him to see a patient after 911 was dialed.
“I was trying to solve, how do I see people at the moment of their emergency?” he said.
Nineteen percent of all ambulances that go to the emergency department originate from nursing facilities, Peck said, and he felt that some trips to the emergency room could be avoided. That is how he ended up living in Central Island Healthcare, which was how he developed Call9.
Call9 allows patients to connect with first responders trained in emergency medicine 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to Call9’s website, in 80 percent of Call9 patient interactions, patients are able to receive treatment without having to leave their room at the nursing home. That is good news for Medicare providers and insurance companies, Peck said.
“By avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations, they save millions of dollars,” he said. He claimed that with Call9 in every nursing home in country, $40 billion in medical costs would be saved.
But fewer patients is not good for doctors and hospitals. That is why Peck invited Suozzi to visit and why he is in touch with other officials in Washington. He said the Ways and Means Committee is putting together a bill that would allow nursing homes and doctors to share in those savings.
Peck said he had convinced some hospitals to get on board.
“The Greater New York Hosptial Association understands that they can’t survive on the fee-for-service way, where they just see patients for the sake of seeing patients,” he said. “[Others] have to think about how they can do right by the patients, save money and get paid that way … if they don’t get on board with that, they’re left out in the cold.”
By sharing those savings with doctors, he hopes he can convince more hospitals to join Call9. The company, which has its headquarters in Brooklyn, has grown rapidly over the last couple of years. Peck said operations would soon begin near Buffalo and that the company was considering six states for future expansion.