Universal Health Services is investing in Vera Whole Health as part of a partnership to add “advanced primary care services” to Universal’s network of hospitals and health facilities.
Universal said it is “receiving a minority equity stake in Vera as part of the transaction.” The amount of the investment isn’t disclosed, but the relationship could lead to a national rollout of Vera’s primary care model known for “health coaching” of workers at employer-based clinics to Universal’s more than 350 hospitals and behavioral health facilities.
The Universal investment and Vera Whole Health relationship are significant as hospitals and health systems look beyond the walls of their inpatient facilities to improve health outcomes and expand outpatient operations as health insurance shifts to value-based payment models.
Hospitals that have long benefited from fee-for-service reimbursement that emphasizes volume of care delivered are struggling to increase admissions and need to generate revenue in different ways. The value-based approach means hospitals are increasingly paid based on patient outcomes and getting medical care in the right amount, at the right time and in the right place. And that isn’t always a hospital.
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“The investment in Vera expands our integrated network of services, enabling UHS to extend the continuum of care and deliver superior quality healthcare to more individuals,” Universal President Marc D. Miller said in a statement. “Adding Vera’s advanced primary care model expands our reach via a unique model of on-site care centers that provide members with the kind of primary care that addresses their whole health including physical, social and psychological, and not simply the treatment of symptoms.”
Seattle-based Vera Whole Health is perhaps best known for its works with employers, setting up worksite primary care clinics. Vera has already been working in the Las Vegas market with Universal’s Prominence Health, which provides coverage for more than 100,000 in Nevada and Texas.
Vera, which has described itself as a “coaching organization” uses a medical team that includes health coaches to help patients change their behaviors and improve self-care and wellness as part of their value-based approach to healthcare delivery.
In a joint statement, Vera and Universal said companies that have “partnered with Vera for their advanced primary care centers have seen up to a 25% reduction in overall healthcare costs in the first year, due in part to more appropriate ER and specialty care utilization and better management of chronic health issues.”
Now the Vera model will be expanded. Universal has 350 hospitals and behaviorial health facilities and 30 outpatient facilities in 37 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.
Universal and Vera will begin rolling out clinics and the primary care model in Las Vegas where Universal has six hospitals. Universal isn’t ruling out a national rollout to its other facilities in the future.
“Their vision to use our advanced primary care model to improve quality of care for less money, and with more satisfied clinicians, is inspiring,” Ryan Schmid, President and CEO of Vera said in a statement.
Date: May 30, 2019