How At-Home Urgent Care Pays Off for Atrius Health

Debra Shute, December 15, 2016

Atrius Health's Care in Place program brings urgent medical assistance to patients who can't get to the doctor's office, boosting patient satisfaction and cutting costs.

Steven Strongwater, MD
Steven Strongwater, MD

Medical groups have come a long way toward providing same-day access for patients in need of prompt care.

However, for elderly patients who can't arrange transportation or don't feel well enough to the visit the office, the options—delaying care or calling an ambulance—don't bode well for patients or healthcare organizations.

To solve the problem, Atrius Health deploys care to patients who can't come to the office, says Steven Strongwater, MD, president and CEO of the Newton, MA-based nonprofit health system. Atrius spans 29 clinical locations, 50 specialties, and 750 physicians.

Strongwater described Atrius's new Care in Place program at the HealthLeaders Physician Organizations Exchange, held last week in La Jolla, CA.

Within three months of launch, the Care in Place program's estimated $97,000 up-front development and implementation costs have generated savings of $509,000 in avoided ambulance fees, and emergency department and hospitalization costs, says Eliza Shulman, DO, MPH, a senior chief innovation engineer at Atrius Health.

Atrius based the program's estimated savings on patient and provider feedback. "Half of these patients have said, 'I would have gone to the ER if you hadn't been able to come here today,' " Shulman says.

Decreases in patients' total medical expenses are very good news for Atrius, which receives 75% to 80% of its revenue from global capitated risk and does not own any hospitals.

"Essentially, we behave as though we're at full risk," Strongwater says.

More than Money
Both patients and physicians have lauded the service, showing that cost savings isn't the program's only benefit.

A sample patient testimonial from Strongwater's presentation:

"Everybody did a great job; they are all very good. The X-ray tech… made it as easy as possible to get an X-ray, it worked out very well. I'm glad I didn't have to go anywhere."

Debra Shute

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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