The acquisition by Healthways of Ascentia Health Care in Philadelphia and Navvis & Co. in St. Louis underscores its interest in the provider market. Navvis is a consulting firm that works with health systems, hospitals and physician groups. Ascentia provides software to assist physicians in managing the population health of their patients.
O'Neil doesn't view the deals as big revenue acquisitions. Instead they bring historic experience and relationships in dealing with provider organizations. "They may even bring business models that are oriented to working effectively with provider organizations," he adds.
To prepare for the Healthways agreement THR is working with its employed physicians as well as independent physicians in the area to help them learn how to use and embrace the tools for population health management that the partnership with Healthways will bring. Scholl says that at a tactical level physicians will have access to analytic detail about their entire panel of patients.
As an example, he says a typical primary care physician has no idea how many diabetics are in a patient panel. "That's not the fault of the physician. The information systems haven't been built to answer that question. They've been built to answer questions about the condition of specific patients. They aren't population management systems." He notes that the Ascentia population health software doesn't require electronic medical records. It can be brought to a physician's office through an Internet connection.