It’s time to confront a simple observation about the current state of Americans’ health and healthcare. Even without the pandemic raging around us, no one was getting healthier — individually or collectively.
Americans like to talk about being healthy, yet as a nation we are not. That disconnect goes a long way to explain why and how COVID-19 hit us so hard. If we ever needed a conclusive example how social determinants affect individual and community health, the ongoing pandemic has provided one — front and center. If you weren’t healthy before or lacked access to basic care, you were and still are a target. We can easily see how the outbreak has taxed networks, facilities, and providers nearly to their breaking point.
What if we could do better? What if we could transition away from the sick care model? It is possible. Vera's Advanced Primary Care (APC) model offers a different and better path. Let’s look at how it compares to the current healthcare model and the path forward.
An end to "sick care"
Barriers like cost and scheduling availability between provider and patient in traditional systems often means patients avoid seeking treatment. They wait until even a common — or worse, chronic — condition deteriorates before seeking treatment in hospital emergency rooms.
Beyond cost, ER care stands alone, isolated from any other treatment the patient may receive. The patient’s primary care provider may not know about it until they receive notes from the ER’s attending providers. No one — patient or provider — really knows what to do next. This disconnect becomes even more concerning with chronic conditions, including the very ones making certain populations vulnerable to COVID-19.
Vera providers have time-rich appointments that last far longer than the standard eight minutes with each patient, allowing them to build relationships. Longer appointments allow providers and patients to discuss any and all life issues that might affect a person’s health. Empathetic listening improves the patient’s health and the healthcare experience for both the patient and the provider. We use the tools, techniques, and methods for keeping people well, not just reacting to injury or illness.
The path forward
The proactive care a patient receives at the primary care level with APC turns the delivery model on its ear. The patient’s care team includes a professional health coach who works closely with them to identify lifestyle and behavior changes they can make to achieve their health goals, including chronic condition management.
APC’s advantages don’t stop with the patient’s needs. An APC-focused practice gains agility that traditional providers can’t match, especially in times of crisis like the current pandemic. Because care providers aren’t reliant on volume numbers like total patients seen or procedures completed, quick pivots and adjustments to care delivery become possible in a fraction of the time a traditional health system requires.
With APC, providers use data and analytics to develop and manage primary care solutions tailored to the needs of specific members and population health cohorts. By aligning incentives with outcomes, providers are enabled to iterate or change the care delivery model as the needs of the population change. An obvious example of this built-in agility would be the immediate shift made at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering care remotely by phone or video, bringing patients into the clinic only when absolutely necessary.
The old homily says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Right now, we know that the U.S. healthcare system is at its breaking point, yet we balk at fixing it—even when a known, proven solution is right in front of us.
It’s time for wholesale adoption of APC. A solution that meets the needs of all stakeholders—patients, providers, and payers alike— is needed now more than ever. Learn more about advanced primary care and its impact on the healthcare system and its costs.