LAMP Alumnus Kevin McGarvey- Bridging the Gap Between Home Care and the Ambulance System

Friday, December 3, 2021

LAMP alumnus Kevin McGarvey (B.S. ’99, Religious Studies and LAMP certificate; M.D. ’04; M.B.A. ’04) advises against choosing just one career path. “Rather than working on finding a particular job or role, try to find problems to solve instead.”

McGarvey has followed his own advice, solving problems at the intersection of medicine and business. During his first career as a hospital physician, he noticed a major issue in emergency medical care: ambulance companies were financially incentivized to take any and all patients to the hospital, regardless of severity and issue. This often resulted in unnecessarily high costs for the patients. 

With an interest in business and entrepreneurship dating back to his time in the Liberal Arts and Management Program at IU, McGarvey began dreaming of solutions. What if there was a way for ambulance crews to fully treat a patient at home, if their issues were not extreme? Could doctors tune into ambulances virtually, to guide care on the way to the hospital? And how could resources and time be used more effectively?

McGarvey began developing a platform, Hippo Health, that bridged the gap between home care and the ambulance system. When a patient calls 911, they are able to connect directly with a virtual care professional like an emergency physician. Or, a paramedic can come to their home to better examine the medical issue as well as provide diagnostics and treatments while having an emergency physician guide the assessment and treatment virtually. With this new care modality that can be paid for by insurance, patients and payers can save thousands of dollars while helping to free up an ambulance team to treat more emergent patients, during a time where EMS agencies are severely stretched thin by COVID.

His switch to telemedicine could not have been more timely: 2 years after beginning his work on Hippo Health, COVID-19 struck. Some emergency rooms across the country began filling to capacity, and concerns grew over COVID-19 patients coming in for care, when staying home might be the best course of action. McGarvey remembers, “The amount of healthcare providers in the US using virtual care went from 5 percent to 95 percent in around two weeks.” 

Already a player in the telehealth market, Hippo Health’s business immediately grew. McGarvey says, “Prior to the shutdown, the paid user growth of Hippo Health’s app was about 25% per month, which turned to 1200% growth within only those first two weeks and has continued growing.” 

McGarvey says it has been rewarding to solve these problems and innovate as an entrepreneur, although he sometimes misses the camaraderie of the hospital. “I really enjoyed working with patients and my fellow physicians in the hospital setting, but I felt like I reached a plateau a little bit and wanted to be challenged to learn and grow. I started Hippo Health because I wanted to try to treat more than just one patient at a time and try to make an impact on a bigger scale.” 

Thinking outside the box comes naturally for McGarvey, who studied religious studies and business (through LAMP), and then went on to a new-at-the-time MD/MBA program. He credits LAMP’s first director Lew Miller with fostering his many interests and setting him up for success. “I loved Lew – he was the executive director when I went through. He was an English professor and just such an awesome guy. He was big into advertising, actually, and made a big impact on many of us. I loved the idea of business and all that surrounds a business organization. But I also had a lot of other interests and wanted to be involved in some leadership capacity, whatever I did,” he explains. “So, LAMP kind of joined everything together for me in a way where I got to connect with a lot of forward-thinking students in a really large campus and work together to solve big problems.” 

McGarvey was also tapped to help solve another problem: professional sports during the pandemic. Starting in August of 2020, along with a team of physicians McGarvey provided comprehensive COVID-19 testing operations for the National Football League’s Monday Night Football games. He was able to travel to stadiums across the country every Monday night, and especially enjoyed seeing the historic Green Bay Packers stadium. 

No matter where he is working, McGarvey is always ready to learn. He encourages other LAMPers to explore their interests and try to solve big problems. “You know, I think if you care about the work you’re doing and you can figure out the economics, make it productive and make it work – that’s the most important thing. I think figuring out what you’re passionate about first and then building skills around that is a good way to set yourself on a sustainable, successful, and enjoyable trajectory.”

Thanks to Kevin for sharing with us! We love to hear from our alumni about their various professional experiences. We invite LAMP alumni of all ages to fill out our Stay in Touch form on the LAMP website.

Feature compiled by LAMP intern Kate Bangert; edited by LAMP staff.