Expanding options and access

KentuckyOne Health responds to changing healthcare landscape with focus on long-term primary care strategy.

By Damian P. “Pat” Alagia, III, MD and Travis Burgett

With the changing landscape of healthcare in the United States, many organizations, including KentuckyOne Health, are actively working to fill the gaps in patient care. We are becoming focused not just on caring for the ill, but on improving the overall health of Kentuckians.

One way that we will do this is through the expansion of our primary care network. We believe that this is among the most important methods for improving the overall health of the community. To achieve this goal, we’ve identified several key initiatives, some of which are already underway. Other programs will be implemented in the next three to five years.

Leading these efforts is a multidisciplinary team of employed primary care physicians, ambulatory care specialists, strategic business development team members, finance experts, physician liaisons and marketing experts. This team will develop our long-term strategic plan for primary care.

Key Areas
The team has agreed that, first and foremost, patients need better access to primary care to improve their overall health. That means our strategy must be focused on providing more access points to the general population, especially those in underserved areas.

Utilizing the expertise of this team, we’ve identified several key areas in which KentuckyOne Health can both expand and improve primary care for people across the state.

First, we’re focused on expanding the number of traditional providers

and their locations. We know that Kentucky is facing a significant physician shortage, and the need for healthcare providers will continue to grow in the coming years. We recognize that our physicians are key to the success of our strategy, so we’re working diligently to ensure that our efforts align with the needs and wants of the physicians who work with us.

We’re working toward a coordinated approach as we follow some new, nontraditional methods, but we want to ensure that we’re complementing our traditional provider base access points—not competing with them.

Second, we will examine opportunities for adding brick-and-mortar urgent care centers. We recognize that this service line will be important for expanding the continuum of care. We are also looking into opportunities to partner with retail pharmacies. We feel certain that the expertise of KentuckyOne Health Primary Care providers can greatly contribute to this growing area.

Anywhere Care
A third area of focus is the virtual component of primary care made available in our recently launched Anywhere Care service. This system provides convenient and cost-effective access to primary care for patients suffering from minor illnesses or injuries.

While Anywhere Care provides this urgent care access from anywhere in the state, we’re also working to fill the gaps in care in the areas of Kentucky that need it most. In 2012, we opened a telehealth primary care clinic in Powell County, and another in Wolfe County. These two areas have some of the worst health statistics in the state.

Thanks to grants from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and the federal government’s Social Innovation Fund, these facilities not only provide additional access to specialty care, but also minimize the need for a patient to travel to see a specialist, thereby reducing the costs of care.

Finally, we realize the need for a strong network of healthcare providers for non-emergency concerns. As the ACA is implemented, newly insured patients now have the access to primary care that wasn’t available to them before. We’ve always had a significant focus on providing indigent care, but now that many newly insured patients will enter the system, we need to make sure that we have enough access points to serve their needs by providing them with primary care physicians and by focusing emergency departments on emergency care.

Shifting from Illness to Wellness

Our focus is on the people we serve. We will continue to provide the highest level of care available to bring wellness, healing and hope to all, including the underserved.

Our strategy is directly aligned with recognizing the physician shortage and addressing that challenge in a way that works for our physicians, but also continues to expand options and access for our patients throughout the state.

Using this strategy, KentuckyOne Health hopes to improve the health of the communities we serve by providing reliable access to care. In this way, we will improve the overall level of health across the state.

This means a shift from illness to wellness; working to keep people healthy from the start. Creating a system of accessible primary care is at the root of our strategy.

Damian P. “Pat” Alagia, III, MD,
is chief physician executive, KentuckyOne Health and Travis Burgett is director of strategy, KentuckyOne Health.