The term healthcare often reminds people of doctor visits, bustling emergency rooms, and insurance policies. We might forget that it encompasses all elements that enhance a person’s health such as wellness programs, community engagement, hospitals, and medications to name a few. Some companies within the health space are demonstrating their dedication to responsible, accessible healthcare through a holistic consideration for patients. Here are some updated care models that caught our attention for the patient help they provide.
Updated Health Models
Newer healthcare models promote wellness and preventive care versus traditional models, which focus on treating ailments or seeking out care once you’re already sick. A prime example of the former is Iora Health’s value-based primary-care model created by physician-entrepreneur Rushika Fernandopulle. This model allows patients to foster relationships with care teams, not just clinicians, to treat the whole human. The care team, which includes physicians, health coaches, behavioral health specialists, nurses, and a clinical team manager, identifies unhealthy patient habits and guides them toward better health choices and outcomes.
The Richmond Health and Wellness Program  (RHWP) focuses on seniors’ well-being by “repairing and sustaining the entire human being.” The RHWP consists of students who visit seniors and interact with them on a more personal level. The program does not revolve around acute care and is not a formal clinic. Students take vital signs, provide advice, make referral appointments, and most importantly, explain to the seniors the vocabulary, clinical data, and context related to their medical issues like complicated pharmaceutical regimens. Patient-centered strategies have been shown to reduce the use of healthcare resources with fewer referrals and diagnostics tests, leading to lower costs for patients. Seniors who participate in programs like the RHWP have had 8.6%  fewer ER visits and 9.8%  fewer hospital admissions than similar patients. A recent survey  by managed care company, Aetna, with 1,000 consumers and 400 physicians echoed similar findings.
- 30% said that direct conversations with a health and wellness specialist would help them achieve their health goal.
- 70% of physicians in value-based care always or often recommend that their patient set health goals, compared to 54% not in value-based care models.
- Physicians in value-based care models report that having a greater access to resources, including social workers, in-home liaisons, nutritionists and mental health counselors, enables them to meet the holistic needs of their patients.
WellMed is another network that continues to demonstrate how healthcare systems can reduce costs and improve care, while enhancing and saving lives. Their model is designed to treat the whole patient—physically, mentally and socially—at each visit. Founder Dr. George Rapier III developed the WellMed Care Model out of frustration in how older adult patients were treated. Their model has shifted the focus of care towards proactive, preventive medicine from a reactive “sick care” system.
The WellMed Charitable Foundation manages senior activity centers in Austin, Corpus Christi, the Rio Grande Valley, and San Antonio. All senior centers offer complementary services like exercise programs, technology classes, and crafts for anyone age 60 and older as well as their primary family caregivers. They host events like “Walk with a Doc” where guest doctors present on topics ranging from anxiety reduction to disease prevention. The community event consists of blood pressure checks and cholesterol screenings, a guest doctor presentation, a group walk on a local trail, and lots of healthy snacks and giveaways.
Non-profits, along with their private sector partners, are also developing a variety of programs to educate the public and promote wellness. The American Heart Association teamed up with the American Diabetes Association to launch the initiative Know Diabetes by Heart to reduce cardiovascular deaths, heart attacks and strokes in people living with type 2 diabetes. Their goal is to communicate the link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease, empower patients to better manage their risk, and support health care providers in educating their patients to take preventative action.
A long-term, attentive, and holistic approach, incorporating personalized healthcare models and preventative practices, is needed to maintain health and wellness. By developing initiatives that combine knowledge and compassion, and that take the whole patient–their concerns, preferences, and values– into consideration, groups like Iora Health, American Heart Association and WellMed are one step closer to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone.