Beyond prescriptions: Concierge health services provider IMWell Health expands in Oklahoma
By: Sarah Terry-Cobo The Journal Record February 10, 2015
MIDWEST CITY – Demand for concierge health services is growing in Oklahoma, leading to expansion of tailored clinics in the state’s two main metros.
Fort Smith, Arkansas-based IMWell Health has two new Oklahoma clinics, one open and one planned, to serve its employer clients. The company’s offices aim to manage chronic conditions and reduce health care costs while improving physician-patient relationships, said Chief Medical Officer and President Catherine Womack.
The company opened an on-site clinic for Reasor’s Foods employees at 1104 E. Kenosha St. in Broken Arrow in January and plans to open a near-site clinic to serve several employer clients in Midwest City in April. IMWell has seven clinics in Oklahoma and seven in Arkansas, with about half at a client’s business and half nearby. The company works almost exclusively with self-insured employers.
Local competition includes University of Oklahoma Physicians clinics, CareNow, St. Anthony’s Saints on Site and Tulsa-based CareATC. Oklahoma City municipal staff will soon have an employee-only clinic, built by CareATC.
Though IMWell offers same-day and next-day appointments at its clinics, it differentiates
itself by specializing in reducing costs from chronic illnesses.
Typically, 15 percent of employees generate 85 percent of health care costs, Womack said. Untreated high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can lead to costly insurance claims. With no office co-pay, the on-site and near-site clinic model reduces costs to employees and improves productivity.
For a member who has multiple chronic conditions, annual health costs are about $7,141 when visiting primary care providers and about $3,764 for IMWell’s service, according to
figures provided by the company.
IMWell Health tracks outcomes and reports the information on an aggregate level to employers. If the client’s employees don’t improve from year to year, Womack looks for ways to intervene.
In one instance, she found many of the clients’ employees had high blood pressure, and data showed employees weren’t returning for follow-up visits. So IMWell contacted those employees for follow-up appointments to adjust medication. A year later, there was a 51-percent improvement overall for the client’s employees, she said.
It’s more than just prescribing the medication, she said. Clinic staff must take the time to establish relationships with patients and find out why they don’t follow through. The
clinics use physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners as primary care providers, in addition to registered nurses and administrative staff members. The health care providers must also want to take the time to establish those relationships, she said.
“It is the buy-in from both the provider and the employee that makes the difference in clinical outcomes,” she said.
She said the company hasn’t yet found a physician for the planned Midwest City clinic. The business model is more labor-intensive for health care providers than a traditional clinic, because they’re expected to follow up with patients. So IMWell executives seek doctors who are willing to do the extra work. In addition, the company relies on electronic health records, which can be intimidating to physicians who have less experience using that technology, she said.
Poor health outcomes are a drag on the economy and are costly for employers, as well as individuals. Oklahoma ranks high in the nation for cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. Arkansas’ demographics are almost interchangeable for Oklahoma’s, Womack said. Yet a high incidence for chronic illnesses is also an opportunity to expand IMWell’s clinics and reduce employers’ health costs, she said.
The next possible areas for expansion are the Moore-Norman and Edmond areas, as well
as the Dallas metroplex and Kansas City metro, she said. In addition to private employers, municipalities and specialty hospitals are the sectors that benefit from the on-site clinic model.
“The future of health care is in aligning both doctors’ and employers’ interests,” she said. “The continued focus will be on how we provide higher quality and more efficient care.”