Innovation in Action - MedWise Urgent Care model promotes a longitudinal approach
By Carley Thornell | September 13, 2022
Innovation is about a lot more than technology. It’s also about new ways of thinking. Across the athenahealth network, healthcare organizations are meeting challenges head-on with fresh approaches to revolutionize care delivery models, increase access, and enhance the day-to-day experiences of patients and clinicians alike.
Here is one of them:
Dr. Patrick Aguilar, M.D., sees a lot of overlap between his role as a medical school professor and chief medical officer of MedWise Urgent Care.
For the former, he designed an innovation curriculum that focuses on moving away from episodic care to a longitudinal approach that connects the dots between care settings. At MedWise, an Oklahoma-based 10-location-and-growing group, clinicians help connect patients with long-term primary care providers. Those providers are often difficult for patients to find independently due to a nationwide physician shortage that in turn limits appointment availability. As a result, patients are frequently left with no choice other than to seek costly emergency care.
Aguilar describes innovation succinctly as “the implementation of ideas that create value.” “When we talk about value, MedWise wants to be distinct by driving value through the eyes of our customers. In our case, those are our patients,” he said.
The group uses innovations like AI to analyze patient surveys, for instance, to meet and exceed expectations. But a large part of meeting those expectations is also driven by a novel approach to traditional patient follow-ups.
“Our Patient Care Center is most classically comparable to a call center, but it’s used for so much more than that,” said Aguilar, adding that the center handles requests for records, referral requests, and prescription issues. “The Center is designed on the idea that patients want to have a continuous, positive experience even when they’re not in our clinics. And we want to free up the people in the clinic to create a positive experience there.”
Unlike some other urgent care clinic models, MedWise focuses on forming relationships within its local communities, both with and among patients and primary care providers. If patients without a PCP have a MedWise visit, the urgent care staff refers them to a local network. If they are currently part of a PCP’s panel, MedWise teams copy encounter notes and provide them to be put into a patient’s record.
Connectedness between care settings ultimately results in better clinical and financial outcomes, says Aguilar. “We believe that longitudinal relationships with primary care practices have to be the place where real, long-term value is generated,” he said. “MedWise wants to help support that every way we can.”