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October 4, 2019

Making the Hard Easy

Years ago, I was leaving the neighborhood when I saw a quick flash in my periphery, followed immediately by a thump-thump from my two right tires.  I turned around and my headlights came to the middle of the street confirming what had happened.

The rabbit had survived the 3,5000-pound car, but barely.

As he limped away, I contemplated my options – ignore him as our neighborhood is overrun with rabbits, take him to the vet, hit him again as an act of mercy?  Really, I was torn – not on the vet option if I am honest – but suddenly saved from my dilemma.  The fox that had been chasing him in the first place strolled into the light, picked up the lame rabbit and then turned to me and gave a small nod. ‘Thanks for the assist,’ he seemed to say.  ‘So tired of chasing these dang rabbits.’

Ironically, I was on my way to pick up a pizza for the kids.  All of us like dinner made a little easier.  You are welcome, Mr. Fox.

Walmart is launching a new pilot to make picking a good physician as easy for its employees as I made dinner for the fox.  Yes, I do seem to have a bromance with Walmart.  Then again, tell me who is more fundamentally transforming healthcare these days?  Washington? Not even close.

You know about Walmart’s Centers of Excellence (COE) program. Associates with one of several conditions – heart, spine, joint replacement surgeries; certain cancers – are given incentives to seek care at a nationally recognized health system with whom Walmart has contracted directly for a bundled payment.  Of the 2,300 patients who were referred to a COE for spine surgery, over half did not have surgery but were treated with less expensive treatments.  The company considers this program to be a roaring success.

Next up?  Finding the right local physician.

That got your attention, didn’t it?

For the 2020, in three markets (NW Arkansas, Tampa/Orlando, Dallas/Ft. Worth) associates will be given access to the Featured Provider program, a service provided by Embold Health  that provides benchmarking data on physician’s appropriateness of care, outcome effectiveness, and cost.

You need to spend a minute on Embold’s site.  Their data set is from Blue Health Intelligence.  And Blue Health Intelligence is just what you might guess it is – data from all the Blue Cross Blue Shield plans.  It’s the largest healthcare data set in the country – 19 billion claims.

Think this will impact who the patient selects as their physician?  Big time.

I can’t stress enough what this represents.  Several big themes that we repeatedly pound on here all come together: the market will drive more change than the government; the march of the consumer continues to gather steam; with that, transparency becomes the powerful weapon; the triumph of value-based care, in all of its forms, may seem slow but it is inevitable.

Are you getting ready?

Tim Coan
Tim Coan

CEO and founder

Tim Coan, ALN’s CEO, writes an insightful and witty blog weekly about a variety of topics relevant to independent physician practices.