With virtual visits and house calls, Byron nurse practitioner launches his own health care practice
After working for Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center, nurse practitioner Kevin Switalski is striking out on his own to offer in-home and telehealth services.
BYRON, Minn. — A local nurse practitioner is bringing together a modern health care format and an old-fashioned practice in his new urgent/sick care venture, My Home NP.
Kevin Switalski launched his independent practice during the first week of March. Unlike many solo practitioners, he doesn’t have a physical office — every visit through MyHome NP happens in a patient’s home or via telehealth.
“It’s actually going back to the way practice was years and years ago when doctors made house calls, and that was the standard of care at that time,” Switalski said. “A more personal touch to it.”
It’s an idea that first came to Switalski while he was earning his doctorate degree at Winona State University. He didn’t jump into private practice right away, however — as an NP, he needed to work under the supervision of a physician for at least one year before practicing independently. After graduating in 2017, Switalski spent a year working in family medicine at Mayo Clinic Health System in Owatonna, then he moved on to Olmsted Medical Center’s FastCare Clinics.
As COVID-19 changed how health providers could deliver care amid the pandemic, Switalski started laying the groundwork for My Home NP.
“It was harder to even get into a health care facility at that time,” Switalski said. “We started doing things in the community like drive-thru COVID clinics where people didn’t have to go into the typical health care facility to get their testing done. … All these things together started to inspire me more.”
Now, Switalski is getting his telehealth and in-home care model off the ground. His practice centers around concerns that typically send patients to their primary care provider or an urgent care clinic: colds, pink eye, ear infections, acne treatment and sports physicals.
Switalski is even able to run tests for RSV, mono, COVID and more from the patient’s home rather than sending those tests through a clinic’s laboratory department. This is one component in keeping costs low for patients, Switalski said.
“If you went to FastCare for influenza, and you got tested for influenza, an influenza test is about $200, plus the $55 visit,” Switalski said. “You’re looking at about $250 for a visit … whereas me coming into your house with tests that are comparatively accurate to what you would get in the clinic, it would cost you $75 for my visit, and an influenza test from me is $35.”
Switalski charges flat fees of $75 for in-home care within 30 miles of Rochester and $50 for telehealth appointments anywhere in Minnesota. For lab testing services, Switalski has those prices on his website www.myhomenp.com/pricing.
“It shouldn’t be a surprise when you go (get medical care), and it can be an expensive surprise,” Switalski said. “I would prefer a system where I know exactly what I’m going to pay and have somebody explain to me what the costs are going to be.”
Switalski isn’t completely on his own when it comes to conditions that call for more care. He outsources some more complicated lab tests to Quest Diagnostics, and he said he will refer patients to other health systems, such as OMC, if they need care beyond his scope of practice.
“An example of referral, going from respiratory illness assessment to a referral, would be if I feel like you have pneumonia,” Switalski said. “I can come in, I can do an assessment, I can check your oxygen, I can listen to your lungs, and if I feel that you’re showing symptoms of pneumonia, my recommendation would be for you to go get a chest X-ray at that point.”
But for conditions that can be treated in-home or through a video call, Switalski said there are two other benefits besides lower costs: convenience and time spent with the provider. He recalled when whole families would come into the FastCare Clinic with sore throats.
“That can be difficult for a parent to pack (kids) up in a car, depending on the weather, and bringing them in and then having to wait, potentially, 30 minutes to an hour until their appointment,” Switalski said. “Providing that family the opportunity of just staying at home where they’re comfortable, it also allows me to, I believe, provide better care for those children.”
As for time, each of Switalski’s visits are scheduled for one hour. Though his consultations often don’t fill up that whole hour, Switalski said that extra time is advantageous for the patient and the provider.
“I don’t have to rush and get to the next person,” he said. “I don’t have four patients I have to see in that one hour. I can see one person, do everything I need to take my time and really give them a clear explanation of what I’m doing.”
My Home NP is Switalski’s first business. He hopes to offer care through My Home NP for at least a year, but he’s hopeful that he can continue providing care through this format for years to come.
“I wanted to do something a little bit different, something I could take more time with and give more of a personal touch to health care,” he said. “That’s why I decided to do this.”