I’m a Care Manager from Dixie Primary Care in Utah. I am responsible for contacting patients on a regular basis to monitor their care outside our practice. Our calls establish a reliable point of contact for patients with the greatest care demands. This allows us to stay on top of their health. Care Management shows our patients they have someone fighting in their corner, providing the support to make difficult lifestyle changes needed to turn their health around.

High-risk patients, often those with multiple chronic conditions, benefit most from Care Chronic Management (CCM) Program. Reflecting on the success of CCM, one patient comes to mind. This patient had chronic pain, COPD, A-Fib, Depression, Heart Failure, Hyperlipidemia, Hypertension, and Prostate CA, relied on a walker and cane for mobility, endured a number of breathing complications, weighed 265 pounds, and followed a pain medication schedule, when he began CCM in June 2017.

When first enrolled in the program, this patient was not ready to engage with me. After undergoing a knee replacement surgery, he recognized the importance of my team’s support in his recovery, and over time, my calls with him grew increasingly positive. I could begin to hear him smiling. Since his surgery, he is mostly pain free, only taking an occasional pain reliever as needed. Best of all, he is now walking freely, without dependence on a walker or cane.

The patient underwent an additional procedure on his nose that improved his O2 stats. He is able to breathe better and participate in more activities. In fact, he has started exercising and losing weight, thanks to both procedures and our partnership during his recovery. He joined a gym and works out with his wife three times a week. Now, he weighs 255 pounds!

After persistent follow up and unwavering support, this patient is engaged in his health. I am confident CCM and his increased participation in the program benefited him. When this patient and I began working together, we created a plan with the goal of exercising and losing weight. He is accomplishing his goals! Calling him a couple times a month, checking up on him, and providing accountability has catalyzed this process. This patient relishes the fact that he has completed his goals. I would even say he is overall less depressed as he now looks to the future.

If our practice wasn’t a part of an Aledade ACO, he would not have received this level of lasting, proactive support from someone on his team. Once he no longer needed follow-up appointments, he would have been off his doctors’ radars. But, because the patient had a CCM, he had support in reaching long-term goals, attaining holistic wellbeing, and addressing concerns that arose outside of the doctor’s office.

The support that Aledade has provided has given me tools that I can pass along to my patients. Helping a patient achieve their goals and take monumental steps towards wellness does not happen everyday and in every practice, which makes this story- a true success story- all the more exciting!

Managing an independent medical group of 10 family practitioners, 32 employees and 85,000 patients is difficult even on the rare day that nothing goes awry by 9:30 AM.  Try adding integration to that daily struggle.  That was my experience in 2008, when I worked as a Clinic Manager and the clinic owner/MDs asked me to come up with a plan to tie-together the electronic health record and onsite lab/imaging, with physical therapy and pharmacy in the same building.  This was no small task.  Life after that day was a blur of template building, interfaces, late nights and workflow changes to keep up with patient communication and needs in a constantly evolving world. Every day, I felt three days behind.  By 2012, the onsite integration was complete.

In 2018, I was introduced to Aledade.  After speaking with Aledade’s founders, my first admittedly skeptical impression was that IF they could actually deliver their vision into a daily operating model, it would revolutionize what limited population health tools I had spent a decade trying to mold. And revolutionize they did!

As the clinic cleared the hurdles of quality standards, clinical thresholds, transition to ICD 10, Meaningful Use and PQRS, I realized that what I had in place was not enough to be successful in the next major evolution from fee-for-service to value-based care.  When I surveyed the clouded horizon of virtual care coordination beyond our clinic’s walls, I learned that Aledade was delivering the patient-specific daily action reports and the visibility across a patient’s entire spectrum of care through its technology platform that had I looked for (and never located) during my 30-year healthcare career. Coupled with weekly in person support from a team of practice transformation specialists, I realized this was population health at its finest!

The Aledade Utah ACO is set up to thrive, with 17 enrolled primary care practices, contracts with Medicare and Regence BlueCross BlueShield, and an unstoppable team that I’m proud to be a part of. In the first performance year, Aledade Utah ACO partner providers have: used wellness visits to fight homelessness and same day appointments to help prevent unnecessary ED visits. I’m inspired by Aledade’s vision of a healthcare system in which independent primary care practices can thrive, and I’m truly excited to see this model grow in Utah.

A few weeks ago, we had a patient call around 9:00 am. She had been recently diagnosed with the flu, and was struggling to keep down any food or fluids. We were able to get her an appointment at the office within two hours of the call and administered IV fluids to prevent dehydration. If the patient hadn’t called us first, or if we didn’t have open-access scheduling, she would have likely ended up in the emergency department.

In the same week, another patient contacted us and said that she didn’t feel quite right. Again, we leveraged our open-access scheduling to get her into the office quickly. This patient was also scheduled for a knee replacement surgery within the next two weeks. She was concerned that her current condition would prevent her from proceeding with the surgery. I evaluated her and determined although she was without a fever, she had pyelonephritis, an infection of the kidney. At the visit, I gave her intramuscular antibiotics to treat the infection and contacted her orthopedic surgeon to provide a report on her visit and treatment plan.

Through the rest of the week, I saw her every day at the office to monitor her progress and keep her surgeon informed on her course of care. She was very anxious about the surgery but trusted that since I was monitoring her closely, I wasn’t going to let her go through it if I felt she wasn’t ready. Thankfully, she was able to make a full recovery in time to have the knee replacement. This could have resulted in significant perioperative complications had she not called us first.

At Dixie Primary Care, our patients know that we can be available if they reach out to us when they experience health concerns. If a patient can contact us before they go to the emergency department, there’s a good chance we can care for them at the office immediately, thereby saving them an unpleasant, lengthy, and expensive visit to the ER. Each of our providers keeps four acute appointments open every day which create 16 same-day consultation slots for the whole practice.

When I tell other doctors about our scheduling process, they often ask whether it is difficult to fill all of the same day appointments. Our response is that this is a conscious choice in an effort to serve our patients, regardless of whether we fill the slots. In some instances, we have used these appointments to reconcile medications after patients get discharged from the ER, hospital or rehabilitation facility. We have decided that it is more important to be available for our patients than to overbook our providers’ days.

This scheduling process parallels our mission to provide value-based care as it leads to remarkably low rates of ED utilization by our patients. Our rates are among the lowest in all of Aledade’s partner practices, which are already lower than many primary care practices across the country. It helps our patients get the right care, at the right time, for the right reason, thereby improving patient experience and compliance and decreasing costs.

A patient’s fears and concerns can be enough for them to turn to just anyone for help. For my family and friends, I would want them to see a doctor who knows them well and whom they can implicitly trust. This is what being a primary care provider is all about.

It’s hard to stay healthy if you don’t have a place to call home.

That’s what we learned firsthand, when one of our patients came in for his annual wellness visit.

Thanks to Aledade, we’ve been doing a lot more of these AWVs. They give us a chance to have a conversation with our patients that’s not just about the test or procedure or illness they came in for that day. They help us see the full picture of the patient’s health. Thanks to Aledade’s care management trainings and real-time data and analytics from the Aledade app, we know which patients we need to see for an AWV, and how to work with them when they arrive.

Our patient that day was wheelchair bound, so we asked how his social situation was. Sometimes patients in a wheelchair can get to feeling a bit lonely. In the course of the conversation, though, this patient told us that he had recently lost his home. The waiting list for housing assistance stretched out for three years. In the meantime, the only place he could stay was a shed in his friend’s backyard.

As a care management team, we knew we had to do something.

Housing is such an important part of good health. The National Council on Health Care for the Homeless covers a few reasons for this. A clean, dry and safe environment supports good personal hygiene, the storage of medication, and safety from people and the weather. A private space lets a patient establish stable personal relationships, and have good social interactions with other people. Importantly for us as health care professionals, a patient with a place of their own is more likely to stick with a treatment plan, eat meals regularly, and show up on time for appointments. And housing reduces anxiety and the impact of stress-related illnesses.

Aledade’s practice transformation specialist Connie Perkins and I knew that a three-year wait was too long. So we spent countless hours on the phone with the state’s resources for homeless and disabled persons. Tooele is a rural community. We don’t have that many resources for housing, but after a lot of work and some persistence, we did it.

We were able to find housing for this patient in Wendover. Even though Wendover’s a two hour drive away from our town, the patient was thrilled to have a home of his own. He even started looking for work around his new place.

Thanks to an annual wellness visit – supported by the training, technology, and partnership of Aledade – we helped our patient get healthier, by finding a place to call his own.

After months of practice visits with physicians across the country, another round of recruitment has come to a close for Aledade. Aledade recently submitted our Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) applications the 2017 start year.

The results are astounding. Aledade has doubled in size. Our ACOs now include over 200 total practices, spread across 15 states, responsible for over 200,000 patients. This is an incredible accomplishment for our young company, and a huge opportunity for the independent physicians we partner with to thrive in the new value-based health care system.

But, for us, and the rest of the Aledade team, crisscrossing the country over the last 12 months speaking with physicians offered an amazing opportunity to get to know and learn from primary care doctors and their staff. We have learned a great deal about what independent physicians value, how they operate their practices, and how they view the great transformation taking place in health care.

First and foremost, the primary concern for all of the physicians we speak with is the same: delivering high-quality care to their patients. Primary care physicians know their patients best. Patients, and the community, trust their primary care practice to deliver personal, attentive care. Unfortunately, the current fee-for-service system makes it difficult for them to deliver that. The result is a system that costs a lot, but delivers less than the best. And no doctor wants to settle for anything less than the best for his or her patients.

Second, from Salt Lake City, UT to West Chester, PA and from Bay City, MI to Rockledge, FL, one common theme emerged as we spoke to primary care doctors across the country – they see great potential in the new value-based payment models, and are eager for a system that pays them to keep people healthy. However, they are concerned about how to get there. Can they stay independent or will they have to go work for a hospital or health system? What options do they have, and of those out there — ACOs, hospital employment, IPAs, and other management groups – which are best? What does all of this mean for their future?

Third, if they take the plunge, how can an independent physician make the changes necessary to thrive in a new payment model? They understand that the shift to advanced payment models comes with adjustments across the board for primary care practices. Technology, workflows, quality reporting, and keeping up with payer and regulatory requirements all need attention. As a solo-physician in Sulphur, LA explained to us, physicians know they must take action, but also need the guidance and tools to do so. This is a complex, if not overwhelming, task for many independent physicians leading their own practice. Whether through help updating practice technology or understanding health policy, practices need a supportive partner to help them navigate the transition.

Our mission at Aledade is to be that supportive, knowledgeable partner for physicians throughout their journey adapting to a value-based health system. Aledade’s on-the-ground staff provide hands-on help for physicians as they implement new technology and workflows. Our policy staff can walk physicians and their practice team through new reporting and reimbursement structures. Our technology gives physicians visibility, for the first time, into what’s happening with their patients outside of the four walls of their practices. And, our network of like-minded physicians across 15 states shares best practices from the field.

This is how Aledade has grown so much this past year, and this is how we are going to deliver the high-quality care patients deserve this year – and for years to come.

To our newest 2017 practice partners, we welcome you to the Aledade family. We’re committed to working tirelessly on behalf of your practice and your patients. And we will advocate for you every step of the way.