The Power of Partnership in Direct Primary Care

September 23, 2019

The Power of Partnership in Direct Primary Care

Activate Healthcare | Paladina Health | direct primary care partnership

About the Author

JP Miller | Senior Vice President Sales | Activate Healthcare

JP serves as the Senior Vice President of Sales for Activate Healthcare, leading sales efforts in Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky. He is passionate about working with benefits brokers and clients to tailor healthcare solutions that meet the unique needs of their population. 

By JP Miller, Senior Vice President of Sales, Activate Healthcare

Paladina Health and Activate Healthcare merged in January 2019 to become one of the largest direct primary care providers in the United States. In a combined effort, our organizations partner with employers and unions of all sizes to deliver superior primary care while lowering healthcare costs.

At Activate Healthcare, people often wonder how we reach an 80 - 90 percent employee participation rate among our clients. They’re also curious how our on-site and near-site primary care clinics deliver such excellent health outcomes and savings, with some employers achieving a 10 to 25 percent reduction in total healthcare costs.

The answer is simple. We partner closely with our clients every step of the way, from researching the optimal location for a new clinic to adding new clinic services over time to responding to the evolving needs of a company’s employees.

Our philosophy is to ask the right questions, listen, make recommendations and deliver direct primary care services that best meet the needs of patients and clients. Here’s a look at how we partner with our clients to help them meet their goals.

Diving into the data to understand the employee population

Every organization has a unique employee population and culture. The way employees and their families consume healthcare services affects how much a company’s healthcare budget is impacted by chronic and other health conditions. That’s why healthcare solutions need to be tailored to each organization so that they work effectively.         

The key is identifying the percentage of a company’s population that’s driving the majority of the healthcare costs. We start every partnership by taking a deep dive into the numbers: examining historical medical and pharmacy claims data and healthcare spending to identify opportunities to encourage efficient healthcare system use.

Establishing the clinic and staffing mix 

Opening a direct primary care clinic requires some time and effort up front to assure long-term success. Although Activate Healthcare owns and manages the project, our clients participate in weekly calls and occasional working sessions to receive updates and keep the project moving forward. When establishing a near-site clinic, we work closely with the employer to identify potential locations that are convenient for employees and their dependents. Analyzing home ZIP codes and performing site visits help us identify locations that will capture the most people within a certain drive time.

Our clients also play a central role in determining the clinic staffing mix. For example, a union group of plumbers or electricians might benefit from having a doctor of osteopathy (DO) in the clinic to address job-related musculoskeletal issues. We might complement the DO with a family nurse practitioner to focus on the healthcare needs of the employees’ dependents. To find the right fit, employers are involved in interviewing potential providers, as well as determining clinic hours that best serve the employee population.

Communicating early and often

From the beginning, we work with our clients to develop a communication strategy that encourages participation and engagement. Before we start seeing patients, communication is focused on building awareness about the clinic. As launch gets closer, communication delivers details such as clinic hours, information about providers and benefits of utilizing the clinic. On an ongoing basis, tailored communication goes out based on the needs of the employer and its population, as well as seasonal information such as reminders to get a flu vaccine.

In tandem with the communication strategy, we partner with our clients to develop incentive campaigns to drive clinic utilization. Incentives can take the form of premium reductions on health insurance or financial incentives. This customized, collaborative approach to communication and incentives plays a major role in driving engagement and utilization among employees and dependents.

Collaborating with brokers and consultants

There are few employers today that don’t rely on a broker or consultant to help them navigate the complex healthcare benefits landscape. Brokers and healthcare consultants are key allies for us because often they are the ones who initially introduce the concept of direct primary care to their clients and prospects. These partners also help us see the big picture in terms of what other benefits the employer might have, as well as understand local market dynamics. From our perspective, involving brokers in a new client engagement from start to finish is a win-win.

Growing and evolving over time 

Our job isn’t done once an on-site or near-site clinic is up and running. We continue to meet with clients once a month to review data and metrics, make recommendations, and share success stories. Clients appreciate receiving insight into their employee population that wasn’t available before. This data gives them a greater measure of control over their healthcare spending that previously didn’t exist.

Over time, employers that are willing to think creatively about how the clinic can evolve and embrace recommendations for adding or changing services are well positioned for long-term success. If we’re partnering with our clients effectively, we’re getting high levels of employee engagement. Over the course of a three-year period, that translates to a cost savings for our clients.

Finding a true partner 

Employers looking to adopt the direct primary care model should seek a partner that is prepared to collaborate closely before, during and after the clinic is up and running. The partner should be hyper-focused on doing what’s in the best interest of the organization and its employees. That means a commitment to delivering high levels of employee utilization, satisfaction and savings.

At the same time, on the client side, a successful partnership must have buy-in for the primary care clinic from the top. It cannot be the sole responsibility of a single department or group of people. Further, adding a direct primary care clinic isn’t always a quick fix or a silver bullet for improving employee health or reducing healthcare costs. Clients that are thinking strategically over multiple years will see the greatest return on investment. 

At Activate Healthcare, we truly believe in the power of partnering with our clients to deliver a superior, cost-effective healthcare experience. After all, the best solutions are ones that we arrive at together.

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