Return of the House Call
Two UW alums find a novel way to bring health care to you.
It may not look exactly like an old-fashioned house call featuring a kindly doctor at your bedside with a trusty medical kit. But technology start-up Pivotal Health blends at-home health care with innovative technology to create a better experience for patients and providers.
As husbands, fathers, and patients themselves, founders Sal Braico MBA’02 and Pete Johnson ’95 were frustrated by scheduling confusion, long wait times, and hurried care from overworked clinicians.
“The existing health care system is broken,” says Braico. “We wanted to find a different answer by leveraging smart tech.”
Combining their background in health care technology and business with the skills of emergency medicine physician Andrew Culp, they launched Pivotal Health in 2021. Patients can request urgent and primary care, and licensed clinicians will come to them for the same copay that an office or clinic would charge.
Younger generations have been quick to adopt this new model, but the number of seniors and patients with disabilities is growing as word spreads about the convenience of at-home visits.
Pivotal Health partnered with several national and regional insurance companies so that patients with insurance can pay for a visit with their existing coverage. Others can choose a self-pay option; a typical visit costs around $169. “We show patients out-of-pocket fees up front so they can make smart financial decisions — not wonder if they’ll get a surprise bill,” says Braico.
They’re also hearing positive reactions from clinicians. “Health care workers are simply burned out,” Johnson explains. “When you’re in the patient’s home, you can dedicate all your time to that patient.”
With headquarters in Madison, Braico and Johnson count many UW students among their patients; last spring, clinicians visited student housing almost every day.
Braico and Johnson are already expanding coverage into the Milwaukee and La Crosse areas. They’ve also added services, including mental health triage and minor surgical procedures. Johnson says that “clinicians love working this way,” and that patient reviews have been positive. “I’ve had pizza deliveries with more drama!” said one.
Published in the Spring 2023 issue