"We now know we can eliminate ER and urgent care visits that can be handled in a different setting," he says. "This is revenue we now won't capture through an ED visit, but we, as an organization, have made the strategic decision that we have to be a leader in reforming the cost of care and providing lower cost alternatives to our patient. This is about as patient-centered as you can get."
Although Franciscan does not currently have any capitated reimbursement contracts, Virtual Urgent Care is helping it prepare for an eventual move in that direction, Robertson says. "This has significant ROI in a fee-for-service world and has as big or bigger ROI in a capitated world, a population health management world."
It's also a strategy to pick up market share when newly insured consumers enter the healthcare arena, thanks to policies they will soon buy on the health insurance exchanges.
"We know there are a significant number of people who do not have a primary care physician, and we believe there will be even more with healthcare reform. We see this as an opportunity to put Franciscan in the front of their minds for ongoing care," Robertson says.
"It's a fourth access point for patients seeking care," in addition to primary care, urgent care, and the ED, he adds.