A health care option that’s designed to deliver efficient and comprehensive care at a reasonable rate is coming to the south Denver area courtesy of the University of Colorado College of Nursing (CON).
CU Healthcare Partners @ Belleview Point is located at 5001 S. Parker Road and expects to open in early January. The clinic plans to start taking appointments in December. CU Healthcare Partners is the faculty practice arm of CON.
The clinic will take all forms of insurance (except, for now, Kaiser) as well as Medicare and Medicaid. Additionally, patients can opt to become direct primary care members. Monthly membership rates range from $19 to $79 depending on age.
“The goal is to have a full range of health care services – kind of like one-stop shopping,” said Adrienne Wolf, MPH, operations manager for CU Healthcare Partners @ Belleview Point. “Your annual membership covers, for the most part, all primary care needs. We provide services that keep folks from going to the ER or urgent care unless they absolutely have to.”
Direct primary care members receive services that include:
- annual physical exam (including blood work)
- annual flu vaccination
- basic in-office procedures
- childhood vaccines
- coordination of care
- integrated behavioral (mental) health
- pediatric care
- phone and email access to providers
- sports physicals
- sick visits
‘Better health outcomes’
The clinic will initially be staffed with a family nurse practitioner and a licensed clinical social worker. “They’re trained in whole-person care,” Wolf said. “In practice, family nurse practitioners are really looking at how mental and physical health are related and how those practices weave together to achieve better health outcomes.”
Patients will have access to their provider through same or next-day office visits, phone calls, emails and eventually via tele-health services. Patient visits will be unhurried, thorough and convenient.
“We’ll arrange our hours to be convenient for folks,” Wolf said. “We’ve got the flexibility to morph the clinic into whatever it is we see that our population needs.”
Wolf said CU Healthcare Partners @ Belleview Point plans to work in tandem with free-standing ER and urgent care facilities, offering convenient services for patients to receive follow-up care.
The clinic plans to offer on-site labs, such as an HbA1c glucose test for people with type 2 diabetes, so patients don’t have to return for repeated visits. “We will try do as much true primary care as possible on-site and only refer patients out when necessary,” Wolf said. “On the patient’s first visit, we want to really figure out what’s going on and help them get better so they’re not overusing the health care system.”
For example, a clinic member with a sore throat or flu symptoms can simply walk in and see a provider for a throat swab or other tests.
The clinic model is especially cost-effective for patients covered by high-deductible insurance plans, Wolf said, because it’s a convenient way for these generally healthy folks to access primary care. Conversely, she said, the clinic is not necessarily designed to treat chronic medical conditions that require many health care touch points and specialty care.
Developing a successful model
CU Healthcare Partners @ Belleview Point is the vision of CON Professor Amy Barton, RN, PhD, a longtime proponent of the direct primary care model. She spearheaded CON’s Sheridan Health Services and helped develop the Center for Midwifery (CFM). “The success of CFM and the engagement of their patients led me to believe that we might be able to transform the manner in which we offer primary care as well,” Barton said. “As I learned more about direct primary care practices, it seemed that the top five patient diagnoses consistently included anxiety and depression, so I knew an integrated approach was necessary.”
CON has offered the integrated care model at Sheridan Health Services (a nurse-led federally qualified health center), so the challenge became how to scale that approach across its practices, said Barton, who is also CON’s associate dean for clinical and community affairs.
“The convenient care component emerged through marketing research that Pam Jones, our executive director for faculty practice, uncovered,” Barton said. “Millenials tend not to seek primary care. Rather, they prefer to obtain care when they need it. Since this generation is such a large demographic in our service area, we want them to feel welcome, too. We hope, down the road, if they like our care, they will subscribe to the practice.”
‘Different health care experience’
CU Healthcare Partners @ Belleview Point is partnering with the Denver Health NurseLine that answers health questions 24 hours a day. It’s another efficient way to manage care so patients can avoid unnecessary trips to the ER or an urgent care clinic.
Wolf said that If Belleview Point develops a need for more pediatric or midwifery care, for example, the clinic can tap the expertise in CON. “We’ve got an excellent pool of talent to pull from here in the College of Nursing,” she said.
Patients coming in for annual health exams will answer basic health and behavioral health questions on an iPad. The data will be incorporated into an electronic medical record that goes to the provider and is likewise available to the patient. Similarly, the clinic has plans to incorporate baseline medical information into a regular health progress report for patients. It will track their various healthcare touch points – visits to CU Healthcare Partners @ Belleview Point, the hospital, urgent care, etc. – and track how the patient is doing both physical health-wise and pocketbook-wise.
“We’ll use technology to improve the customer visit; our clinic really is for people who are looking for a different health care experience,” Wolf said. “We want to keep innovating and improving the patient experience. Our overall goal is to improve health outcomes and decrease costs.”
For more information, visit the CU Healthcare Partners @ Belleview Point website here.