By Aaron McKethan, CEO of Aledade Care Solutions and General Manager of New Ventures
I joined Aledade just over two years ago to build a new unit of the company that develops new business capabilities aligned with Aledade’s mission, helping even more primary care practices achieve success in value-based care over the long term.
We called the team “New Ventures”, and our first priority was to develop and offer primary care practices new virtual care delivery options to meet more of their patients’ clinical needs. The basic idea is simple, and I’ll give you three examples of how it’s working for practices in Aledade’s network so far:
First, effective use of medications can improve health and reduce rates of unnecessary utilization and costs. Yet, keeping up with prescription medications can be complex and time consuming for many people. Many smaller practices do not have in-house pharmacy teams available to assist patients. Today, physicians in the Aledade network can refer certain at-risk patients to Aledade’s in-house pharmacy outreach team, who will – on practices’ behalf – connect directly with patients who need assistance with chronic disease medications to resolve barriers and address needs inhibiting the effective use of prescription medications.
Second, when we discern that a patient’s illness may be at risk of worsening, practices working with Aledade can now leverage focused care management programs to deliver patient-centered, evidence-based support to reinforce and supplement in-person care patients receive directly from their physician. For example, more than half of the practices in Aledade’s growing primary care network are participating in an impactful program to support patients with advancing kidney disease. This rapidly growing program has already helped patients avoid hundreds of unnecessary hospital stays by helping them better understand their disease trajectory, take the right steps to manage it, and connect with adequate specialist care.
Third, through our January 2022 acquisition of Iris Healthcare, Aledade identifies patients with serious illness who would benefit from a comprehensive advance care plan documenting their preferences and values. Practices in our network can refer such patients to our specialized comprehensive advance care planning (CACP) team, which devotes many hours carefully engaging each patient and their family members to lay out potential future care scenarios and document the kind of care experiences the patient wishes to have (or wishes to avoid) in the future. From an initial successful pilot of a few hundred patients, we are now delivering CACP services to tens of thousands of patients each year all across the country.
And that’s just the beginning.
Why do I believe this work is so important? Because no matter how big Aledade’s primary care footprint becomes, what matters most is creating well-coordinated, meaningful and helpful experiences for each individual person wherever they are on their health care journey. Every patient should be able to access a high-quality, well-coordinated system of primary care rooted in the community in which they live. Everyone should be able to receive care tailored to meet their needs and aligned with their values. And it should be possible for people to receive that kind of supportive care whether their primary care physician works in a large multi-specialty clinic in the city or in a small clinic in a rural community. We exist to equip independent primary care professionals all across the country with the tools and resources they need to deliver comprehensive, robust primary care in their communities and neighborhoods.
The New Ventures team has also learned that we need to expand the type of support we offer to practices themselves to ensure that practices are well positioned to thrive in today’s complex health care environment. Over the last year, our team has been developing and incubating new “practice health” solutions to assist primary care practices with the administrative or business side of independent practice. This includes helping practices manage the financial aspects of practice management and operations, revenue cycle management, physician recruitment and practice staffing, provider credentialing and payer enrollment, and practice growth. The goal of offering these new solutions is threefold: to optimize practices’ financial health, to equip practices for even greater long-term success in value-based care and to make life easier for doctors and staff working in independent primary care settings.
Now is the ideal time to bring all these new solutions together to deepen our support for independent primary care practices and the patients they serve. That’s why, going forward, my role at Aledade is expanding; I’ll serve as Chief Executive Officer of Aledade Care Solutions while continuing to lead Aledade’s New Ventures unit.
I’m honored to step into the leadership role left by my longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Mandy Cohen, as she takes the helm at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We will carry on with our shared mission to build the kind of health care system for every patient that we would want for our own families. Soon, we will announce additional changes for how these solutions and teams will come together in a unified way.
In the meantime, my team and I have identified a few initial priorities to guide the next stages of our work:
- Engage physicians and practice staff in all that we do. We will continue to engage and learn from physicians and their teams about their needs and lived experiences as we design and test new solutions to help their patients maintain or restore their health.
- Unify administrative and clinical wraparound support for practices. We will redouble our efforts to make it easier to run a value-based primary care practice and easier to deliver the kind of clinical care patients need that requires capabilities many practices lack.
- Expand the scope of evidence-based, complementary clinical services that we offer practices. Building on our initial success and learnings, we will further expand the scope of complementary clinical support we offer practices in our network.
- Integrate new ways of engaging patients. With primary care physicians remaining at the center of patient care, we will partner with practices to engage patients through a multi-channel experience that considers unique modalities that will resonate best for each patient and, in doing so, will improve the longitudinal patient experience.
When I joined Aledade, I wrote that “every community is stronger with successful, resilient primary care practices who are invested in their patients, have the tools and capabilities to succeed, and are true stakeholders in helping their local communities flourish.” At Aledade, I’ve been honored to be a very small part of a big movement that reinforces the role of primary care professionals at the center of patient care, and I’m thrilled to open a new chapter of my work by taking on an expanded role with the same mission: to help primary care practices, patients, and communities flourish.