Forbes magazine this week took on the recent initiative by Children’s Health to invest in targeted efforts in the community to increase access to care.
Written by consultant Greg Satell, the piece walks through CEO Chris Durovich’s decision to bring on executive Peter Roberts “to diagnose the problems in the community and design solutions that would make a positive impact.” Since Children’s rebranded in 2014, the pediatric provider has sought to make itself a system that extends its reaches beyond its flagship hospital in the medical district.
It’s boosted its presence in Collin County and recently launched an innovation center that sends money into startups that can help grow its services even further. Its investments include the urgent care mobile app Mend, the data analytics company Pieces, and the pharmaceutical company Proteus, which has developed an ingestible microchip that is swallowed with medication and allows the physician to monitor the patient’s diagnostics.
Satell, meanwhile, focuses on an effort to partner with primary care clinics that dot Dallas’ neighborhoods. He writes of programs created by Elizabeth Stefanski, who joined Children’s Business Innovation Factory in 2011. She helped identify more than two dozen families who suffered from chronic conditions yet sought care in emergency rooms. They then worked with those families to help boost their health by improving their quality of life.
Over the past 4 years, Children’s Health has learned an enormous amount. As Peter Roberts told me, “Through the work of Elizabeth and her team, we have seen demonstrable proof that by increasing the scope of our care to encompass the social determinants of health—including the patients’ families—we can significantly improve medical outcomes while reducing costs.”
In fact, in one program that was focused on asthma patients, it was found that linking community-based public health programs to treatment reduced emergency room visits by almost 50%. That frees up a substantial amount of resources that can be deployed elsewhere. Yet to make these programs sustainable, there needs to be a business model to support them.
To achieve that Roberts and his colleagues at Children’s Health have designed an innovative HMO that will enroll 15,000 children and their families next year. The plan will be funded through the assumption of Medicaid liabilities for the children and using a portion of those funds to finance navigators to support well being among the HMO members.