By Mat Kendall
Earlier this week, we announced that Aledade has applied to CMS to form new ACOs in seven new states beginning January 1, 2016. Since Aledade launched last June, we’ve partnered with over 100 independent primary care practices in 11 states, and are now responsible for the health of more than 80,000 Medicare beneficiaries – exceeding goals we set for ourselves just two months ago. In 14 months since our founding, Aledade partner practices have increased preventive care visits by 400 percent, and are administering two-and-a-half times more vaccinations to patients who need them. More than nine in ten Aledade practices receive real-time notifications when patients are admitted or discharged from a local hospital, and 95 percent of partner provider 24/7 access to an on-call doctor.
But while we’re extremely proud of these statistics, they only tell part of Aledade’s story.
As Executive VP for Provider Networks, much of my work for Aledade occurs outside the four walls of our Bethesda office. Especially over the last nine months, I – and many other members of our team – have been on the road. We’ve visited hundreds of primary care practice around the country, explaining our partnership ACO model and offering ourselves as navigators for doctors managing the rapidly changing landscape of health care. These doctors know the shift towards value-based care is here, and many of them are eager to lead the way. But so many are worried they lack the technological, regulatory, and financial expertise to succeed in this brave new world. For these doctors, the request is straightforward:Show me the rules of the road, help me take the wheel, and let me focus on keeping my patients healthy.
Our growth over the past 14 months has been driven by the overwhelming demand we’ve seen from these doctors for a partner that can help map the constellations of various value-based care programs, and navigate what it means for their practices. From Lawrence, Kansas, and Wheeling, West Virginia, to Memphis, Tennessee and Orlando, Florida, these physicians are looking for a strong partner who can make participation in these programs as easy – and as rewarding – as possible.
This story can’t be captured in growth metrics alone – it’s the story of family physicians who have been in their communities for years or even decades, and are eager to bring a new model of medicine to the patient populations. Connected with our team and equipped with tools to practice population health for the first time – often in ways that are mind-bogglingly common-sense – many of these doctors are already making significant improvements in the lives of their patients.
In the coming months, we’ll be featuring many of these All-Star Physicians – their knowledge of, and relationships with, their patients are two of Aledade’s biggest drivers of success. But on the occasion of our expansion announcements, here are a couple of examples of how the work of our partner physicians is playing out – not in terms of dollars saved or quality measures met, but in the lives of individual patients:
- Just a couple of weeks ago, one of our ACO Partner Practices in Delaware was able to prevent four unnecessary Emergency Room visits in one week — simply by offering patients same-day visits. By accommodating patients in the office, the practice was able to save the patient hours of ER waiting time, prevent duplicate testing and possible hospital admissions, and avoid needless stress for these patients and their families.
- To help prevent hospital readmissions, an ACO Partner Practice in Maryland is ensuring that patients who visit the emergency room are seen in the practice the next day.
- An ACO Partner Practice in Arkansas reached out to a patient and encouraged him to come in for a Medicare Wellness Visit. During the visit, the primary care physician determined that the patient had a significant risk of falling. The ACO is now able to intervene by installing a hand rail at the patient’s home, which will minimize the patient’s fall risk and potentially prevent a serious injury and hospitalization.
These are just a few examples that highlight the ways in which Aledade’s work is lowering costs while improving the lives of patients nationwide. For most of our providers, these changes are simple and intuitive – and made possible because of the technology platform we’re able to provide. But these changes make measurable differences in the lives of patients – keeping them from unnecessary visits to the ED, or easing their transitions from a hospital stay.
As we say around the office almost every day (at least on the days I’m actually in the office), our work has just begun. Our goal has always been empowering doctors to thrive in the new health care landscape. This week’s news is evidence that physicians are responding to our partnership ACO model. But the impacts are being felt by patients most of all, thanks to the work of our partner docs.