Belsky said Oak Street enters markets where there is a “need” and sees Longview as a “primary care desert,” where there is a limited number of primary care options, particularly geriatric-focused primary care.
Belsky said that in the typical primary care model with insurance, doctors are incentivized to see a lot of patients, which leads to patients having limited amounts of time with a physician. He described Oak Street Health as a “value-based provider.”
“We service all older adults on Medicare,” Belsky said, people with the “traditional red, white and blue card” or Advantage plans such as Humana. “A significant portion of our patients, they’re below the poverty line. They might be Medicare and Medicaid patients.”
“We take on the full risk for our patients to get healthy,” he said. “Our incentives are to keep the patient healthy, happy and in their home and out of the hospital.”
Oak Street Health started seeing patients July 7 in Longview at 1207-A E. Marshall Ave. in the Alpine Village shopping center near Super 1 Foods. The approximately 10,000-square-foot facility is Oak Street’s 11th in Texas. The company also has centers in Tyler, the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas and in other states around the country.
“We look for areas where there is a need, and we saw a pretty significant need in East Texas,” he said
Oak Street clinics don’t offer primary care to infants, children or young adults, for instance.
“We want to make sure that our care model is designed to focus on older adults with a lot of chronic conditions,” Belsky said. Patients in that situation are seen every three weeks, he said.
Oak Street invests in what he described as “big robust care teams,” with screenings, a medical social worker — integrated health care, he said. Medical assistants help by taking provider’s notes during visits, so that the provider can focus on the patient. Patients get a full 40-minute visit with their provider for an annual physical and initial visit, Belsky said, and Oak Street promises same or next-day appointments for all patients.
Oak Street also works to remove barriers that might prevent patients from seeking medical care, offering free transportation to appointments with a fully accessible van, Belsky said. An approximately 1,500-square-foot community room also is available for patients. He said they can use it as a cooling center in the summer, for instance, if they don’t have good air conditioning at home. That would be particularly important to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, for instance. Bingo and educational classes are held in the community center as well.
The clinic also provides a 24-7 patient support line, behavioral health care and social health support services, Medicare education classes and more. Oak Street reports that since it was founded in 2012, it “has driven an approximately 51 percent reduction in patient hospital admissions compared to Medicare benchmarks, a 42 percent reduction in 30-day readmission rates and a 51 percent reduction in emergency department visits, all while maintaining a Net Promoter Score of 90 across patients.”
“We are excited to expand access to our high-quality, value-based care to members of the Longview community with the opening of this new center,” Dr. Ashley Noriea, Oak Street’s senior medical director, said in a statement. “The majority of older adults we care for have two or more chronic conditions, making this kind of care so important. As our organization continues its mission to rebuild health care as it should be, we look forward to improving patient outcomes in Texas and helping older adults live their healthiest lives.”