Health Care on Wheels

A local investment group is utilizing technology and brand identity to propel growth in the $57-billion home-health-care market.

Residential Home HealthReaching the finish line of the Detroit Free Press/Flagstar marathon a few years back, David Curtis still had enough breath left to secure a consulting contract. The deal proved fortuitous. Three years ago, Curtis and two partners acquired the company, Residential Home Health (RHH), and have since propelled it to nearly triple-digit growth.

At the time of the purchase, RHH had 40 employees who provided home-health-care services to some 200 patients. Today, the company has 400 employees who provide care to more than 2,000 patients suffering from arthritis, diabetes, dementia, and other ailments. The home visits improve the quality of life of patients while holding down hospital expenses, which can run up to $30,000 a week.

To improve its fortunes, RHH, based in Madison Heights, has leveraged both technology and brand identity. Each of its resident nurses is equipped with GPS tracking equipment, so that if a patient needs a nurse quickly, the central office can dispatch the closest personnel. In turn, a remote monitoring system set up in homes allows patients or their care providers to measure such vital signs as blood pressure, pulse, or glucose levels on a daily basis. The $2,500 system can examine blood samples, as well, limiting the need for lab visits.

“Technology has really contributed to our growth,” says Curtis, president of RHH. “We utilize electronic medical records and daily vital-sign readings so that a patient’s doctor is aware of everything that’s going on. We’re really an extension of the hospital.”

Plus, Curtis and his partners, chairman and CEO Mike Lewis and managing partner Joe Mooney, have a flair for brand identity. The company has a fleet of 200 Chevrolet HHRs that staff members use to make house calls from lower Michigan to northern Ohio. The owners also routinely host open houses at area facilities like the Townsend Hotel and MGM Grand Detroit to retain, attract, and reward clients and employees.

Riding the wave of aging baby boomers, the $57-billion home-health-care industry has enjoyed a 10.4 percent compound annual growth rate since 2001, according to a 2008 report from Beringea, a health-care-focused investment-banking firm in Farmington Hills. There are approximately 9,200 home-health-care agencies in the United States, up from 7,000 such firms in 2002.

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