Boston Business Journal | Jun 4, 2015 | Jessica Bartlett
UMass Memorial Health Care and CareWell Urgent Care hope to integrate further beyond an affiliation, CEOs from both companies said today.
The multi-site health system and the urgent care clinic announced their affiliation on Thursday, with plans to develop three integrated CareWell locations in Worcester and Northborough.
But beyond Carewell using UMass staff and sharing the medical information of its patients with the health system, the two institutions hope to financially link the organizations in the future.
“We are working on the partnership and what it look like in the long term,” said UMass Memorial CEO Dr. Eric Dickson in an interview. “The strong affiliation exists as the starting point, and will likely grow into something more concrete. I think that a tighter financial link in the future is definitely possible between us.”
According to Shaun Ginter, president and CEO of CareWell, it’s a mutual goal. In the short-term, CareWell will pay for the expansion into three locations, two of which in Worcester are expected to open on July 15.
The expansion is part of larger plans for both organizations. CareWell is also adding a second location in Cambridge in addition to the three through the UMass affiliation, bringing the total number of locations in the state from nine to 13.
The organization hopes to open another two to three locations this year, and said that it is constantly talking with other health systems about affiliations. CareWell also has an affiliation with Lahey Health.
“Proper affiliations for urgent care can help coordinate care and help integrate with the local community,” Ginter said.
For UMass Memorial, the plan is part of a larger mission by the organization to develop a broader range of services for its patients.
The health system has been looking for ways to offer broader access to care at lower price points, as health systems move away from getting paid for each service rendered, and more to being paid on a budgeted basis for each patient.
In addition to allowing UMass doctors not to duplicate X-rays and other diagnostics when seeing patients for follow up care, the integration will also allow primary care doctors to refer patients to an urgent care center, rather than to an expensive emergency room.
“We have to be thinking like we’re managing the health of the population and the total cost (of each patient),” Dickson said. “It might take some ER volume and move it to a lower cost setting. In the past, that would be financially bad. But the future of medicine, being able to do that, (is) financially good. It might not be that way today for us, but we’re looking to the future as we’ll be taking on more risk.”
UMass is also looking to create an ambulatory surgery center to do outpatient surgeries outside of the big hospital.
"This is one piece of a bigger extension of services that are planned, so that we can meet all of the needs of our patients," Dickson said.