At a time when healthcare reform is making sweeping changes in the way providers and patients are viewing healthcare, some physicians have become open to business models that promise to make healthcare more efficient while improving care. One example of this is applying the franchise concept to orthopedic care, in a network of clinics that will be able to share and use information in ways that will drive down costs.
That’s the idea behind OrthoNow, a nationwide franchise of orthopedic urgent care centers. Alejandro Badia, M.D., CEO, says the franchise will offer immediate care for orthopedic injuries. He envisions that that the network of clinics will enable clinicians to share data that will result in a more efficient system by minimizing redundancy in testing.
“We’ve got a great healthcare system; let’s just make it more efficient,” says Badia, a hand surgeon who heads a separate group practice in Doral, which he will maintain. He says the idea for a franchise of orthopedic clinics came to him a few years ago, when he observed that “virtually all of the pathology that I saw—certainly traumatic—came to me through urgent care or through a hospital. It began to frustrate me, because I realized there were delays in the referrals, incorrect dates, and wasted tests.”
Alajandro Badia, M.D.
Connectivity between the clinics will be created by a cloud-based practice management solution (supplied by Miami-based CareCloud), which Badia says will provide a platform for data sharing among the clinics. “We want to be able to share data to have benchmarks for outcomes,” he says. “I want to have data in the cloud and to have it available anywhere, as long as security measures are taken, and to be able to share information and even look at critical aspects of the business.”
Badia expects his franchise to get the attention of orthopedic surgery groups, “that realize that a lot of their patients are coming from emergency rooms or general urgent care centers,” before being referred to an orthopedic specialist—a process that in his view that leads to “double-dipping” of tests. “We are trying to eliminate the redundancy and create a more efficient system,” by going directly to the orthopedic clinic instead of the ED, he says.
Badia’s concept of an orthopedic clinic is akin to a walk-in clinic but is faster and less costly, he says. “It lets you see the orthopedist directly,” and then a sub-specialist if required, he says. He adds that OrthoNOW will not share specific patient information, but it will share aggregated information on how clinics treat specific injuries. “There are hundreds of treatments and diagnoses that we will be able to get a better handle on,” he says.
Badia says the cloud-based application that will tie the clinics in the network together will offer connectivity in a secure framework. Initially it will be a practice management system for the scheduling, billing and, potentially, for the collection of additional data, he says. He envisions that the various clinics will be able to collect and share data with each other about the types of injuries they are seeing. Eventually, he says, that aggregated information can be shared with insurance carriers as evidence of efficiency.
For example: for ankle sprains, OrthoNOW will be able to quantify the number of sprains its clinics have seen in a given time period, average time spent in the office, and number of MRIs that were ordered for this type of injury. He believes his business model will help make healthcare more efficient by helping to establish benchmarks, measuring performance, and deciding how to improve. “We will be able to save a lot of money and demonstrate that,” he says.
Badia also envisions that the franchise will allow clinics to share information about how procedures are coded and reimbursements for certain procedures and effective treatments for common clinical problems, and may make possible group-purchasing arrangements that can lower costs for clinics that standardize around certain treatments.
“We can control healthcare without turning it inside out,” Badia says. He’s betting that his franchise model, together with cloud-based technology, will allow him to do just that.