House calls 'modern spin on old-fashioned health care': private nurse practitioner

Caredrop, a new health care service in St. John's, will send a nurse practitioner to your door for a fee.

Service aimed for those who cannot get family physician appointment

Raleen Murphy's company, Caredrop, is trying to fill a gap in accessing timely health care, for a fee. (Submitted by Raleen Murphy)

Sore throat? Ear infection? Simply tired of long waits at the doctor's office?

A service started in St. John's this week offers to alleviate that by sending a nurse practitioner to your door for a fee.

"We're putting a modern spin on old-fashioned health care," said Raleen Murphy, a nurse practitioner and founder of Caredrop, a health service that responds to acute but non-urgent requests for care.

There are a lot of pains not being able to access health care in a timely manner.- Raleen Murphy

"Right now there are a lot of pains with not being able to access care in a timely manner," said Murphy. "So I think a lot of the value is in the service being delivered … in the comfort of their own home."

Health care free but often inaccessible

When people need to see their family doctor they may wait days, even weeks, for an appointment.

Murphy said her service is intended to fill that gap.

"The option now is to wait in an emergency room. So I'm just presenting an option that some people will be able to pay for," she said. "Maybe it could unburden the existing system to some extent."

Murphy has been a nurse practitioner for eight years.

She claims the inspiration for opening a private service came, in part, from hearing patients complain about the difficulty of accessing health care in a timely manner.

A new service in St. John's will make house calls for acute, non-urgent cases. (IStock)

"Canada has this wonderful free health care system but unfortunately we do have some of the lowest outcomes in terms of wait times and health outcomes in general," she said.

"So, are there alternatives? Can we be doing something different?"

Murphy believes her service will be particularly helpful for seniors.

"I can do a physical assessment and make a potential diagnosis, prescribe a medication if possible, order lab work if required."

Private health services not new

A one-hour home visit costs $150 and a 30-minute video conference consultation is available for $75. However, Caredrop's services are not covered by MCP or private insurance.

Murphy argues that private services like those she is offering are not new or unique.

I'm thinking largely about our seniors population.- Raleen Murphy

"There are a lot of health services that are not covered by our current health care system such as optometry and dental services, and medications."

Murphy is currently practicing on her own, but hopes other nurse practitioners might like working for her company in their off hours.

"It's after hours and weekends and holidays when people are having trouble accessing care," said Murphy.