It seems counter-intuitive that providing patients more access to primary care can drive down overall healthcare costs. In fact, in the right care environment, increased patient visits to their primary care provider lead to cost savings while bringing about better outcomes.
Better patient access to care and a better member experience drive patient engagement. An engaged patient will have better short- and long-term health outcomes. Patient utilization at the right place and the right time can solve the entire healthcare cost issue. It takes an up-front investment on the part of all involved — patients, providers, and payers.
When people are afraid to seek routine healthcare because of the cost, they often end up in hospital emergency rooms or needing expensive prescriptions. A single visit to the ER can cost many times more than treatment in their primary provider’s office — if they had sought care at the onset.
Driving better health outcomes and lowering costs through advanced primary care
Vera’s primary care providers combine insights from patient data and increased accessibility with a focus on behavior change to create personalized proactive care plans. This kind of relationship empowers providers and enables them to treat issues before they become major concerns requiring the intervention of specialists. Proactive care clearly drives down total healthcare costs.
Unlike traditional healthcare that runs on referrals and specialists, advanced primary care (APC) provides 80 to 90 percent of all patient treatment. Clinics operating on the APC model manage all care, including referrals to participating specialists. Not only does this lower costs for employers and payers, it comes at significantly less effort by the covered employee.
In the APC model, primary care takes place in a fixed-cost environment so patients are much more likely to seek care as soon as they need it. In the end, payers face fewer claims and less expensive ones, at that.
Specialists benefit from the APC model, as well. They get better qualified referrals thanks to the primary provider’s deeper patient involvement and are more likely to be able to practice medicine consistent with their high level of training and education.
Bucking the trend
The APC model would be an obvious choice for any organization seeking to reverse the trend of continually rising healthcare costs. Improved outcomes through early intervention — a natural consequence of patient engagement at the primary care level — reduces wasted referrals and specialist visits. But they get more than just cost savings. A healthy workforce is a more productive workforce.