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Analysis

How Oak Street Health Retains 97% of Its Patients

By Philip Betbeze  
   October 19, 2017

HLM: Describe your patient population and what’s different about the locations.

Pykosz: The majority of our patients are Medicare Advantage, and we work with eight MA plans. We start all centers from the ground up—we don’t try to take existing assets and change the way they practice.

We are never in medical office complexes. We’re in retail locations of about 15,000 square feet. We want to provide more access and lower barriers.

We start with zero patients and hire providers and the team, and we go into the community and talk about why it’s important to have a medical home and a doctor. This is basic stuff, but a lot of these patients have never had a primary care or insurance.

We encourage them to go to the doctor regularly, not just when they’re sick. We have transportation, we average 30-minute visits, and we have 24/7 phone coverage. Ninety-seven percent of those who try a visit remain with us long term.

HLM: How do you recruit clinicians?

Pykosz: We have to find physicians who are aligned with the mission. It’s a challenging patient population and the model is different.

Our panel size is about 500 patients versus a national average of about 2,300. It’s a different way to practice medicine, and bonuses are based on quality, not RVUs.

This is better alignment and it’s not a model for everyone, but we have plenty of providers. We have a waiting list of docs who want to do this in Chicago.

HLM: How do you ensure that you’re not keeping patients out of the hospital who need to be there?

Pykosz: We send patients to specialists or the hospital if they need it. If we don’t, it’s just going to get worse and cost a lot more money. If we send patients to hospitals early enough when they really need it, they’ll need a shorter stay.

Think of it from quality perspective first: Outcomes and quality of care is 99.9% of the time what ends up making the company money in the long term.

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders.


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