- BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has partnered with Sanitas to open 8 primary care clinics to serve members in Middle and West Tennessee.
- Sanitas offers preventive care, chronic condition management, lab work and diagnostic imaging services, as well as walk-in care and night and weekend availability.
- Several centers also offer urgent care, children’s services and therapies (massage, allergy, physical) to members who haven’t had access to those services before.
If your child unexpectedly misses school, what happens at your work?
Even in the most understanding work environment, it can feel stressful. That’s especially true if the child is dealing with a mix of mental health and medical conditions. It’s just one example of how closely connected our work and school lives are to our health.
“We had a mom in yesterday whose child has severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD],” says Dr. Lloydetta Stovall, a pediatrician at the Whitehaven Sanitas clinic in Memphis. “This mom was already struggling to navigate the school system, and then her child got in trouble. When she arrived at our clinic, she was understandably distraught. She’s got the school calling saying, ‘You need to come pick him up now,’ but her family is dependent on the income from the job she has to leave to go get him. And that’s on top of the fact that she’s most worried, of course, about getting her child the help he needs.”
Convenient care without a timetable
Taking the time to untangle a working mom’s challenges may seem out of bounds for a health clinic — but not at Sanitas.
The goal of the eight Tennessee medical centers they’ve recently opened in partnership with BlueCross is to maximize the availability of high-quality care for the whole patient, starting by offering comprehensive services in the communities where patients live and work. To deliver better health outcomes, both organizations believe it’s important to stop focusing on how many patients they see and instead focus on how many ways they can help each patient.
“As a patient’s primary care provider, we help them navigate the system to get all their needs taken care of,” Dr. Stovall says. “That includes vaccinations, preventive screenings or help with mental health. If we’re seeing a patient for acute care, we’ll say, ‘Hey, while I have you here, when was the last time you got a mammogram?’ or ‘Have your kids gotten their shots for school this year?’”
“We look at every patient in terms of the long haul. That allows us to use every opportunity to get them and their families the comprehensive care they need.”
In the case of the mother and child at the Whitehaven clinic, Dr. Stovall took the time to explain their options. She helped the mom connect with a behavioral therapist to get started on her son’s care plan. Then, she connected her with resources to help her tackle any work she might have to miss under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
“She simply wasn’t aware of all the resources at her disposal, not only medically but comprehensively,” Dr. Stovall says. “By taking the time to explain all of that, we’re able to be here for our patients in concrete ways.”
Putting the patient at the center
The Sanitas and BlueCross partnership takes an approach that’s in line with the Medical Home Partnership (MHP), the latest BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee program designed to improve members’ overall wellbeing and address health care cost increases by collaborating with health care providers.
- The first part of this effort is the concept of a Patient Centered Medical Home that provides holistic care and extra support for members with chronic conditions such as diabetes.
- BlueCross then launched the Quality Care Partnership Initiative as an additional focus for primary care providers who agreed to be paid based on the quality of the health care they provide members as measured by health outcomes and overall care experience.
The overall aim of the MHP is to make it easy for members to seek care through extended hours for appointments, phone and email consultations, and online portals for viewing test results and messaging with doctors. Many participating providers also offer urgent care services.
So far, results show that MHP makes a difference. BlueCross members who receive care from MHP providers report positive care experiences, achieve better health outcomes and are less likely to receive unnecessary care — all of which puts the focus where it should be: quality.
“Being a part of Sanitas is very encouraging because we’re focused on quality and on closing the gaps in care for our members,” Dr. Stovall says.
“As a provider, it’s freeing to be encouraged to focus more on quality than quantity — to make sure we fill in those gaps in care so our patients get what they need.”
It’s a goal that’s personal to Dr. Stovall, as well. Having lived in Whitehaven since she was 5 years old, she says serving her community is a privilege she doesn’t take lightly. She knows it takes a village to offer the type of comprehensive care they’re able to at Sanitas, which is why they employ a team approach.
- The care team huddles daily to address gaps in care for big issues in their patient populations such as blood pressure control, diabetes management, preventive screenings and getting vaccines to elderly patients.
- A nurse educator is available to spend extra time with patients, checking blood pressure, taking glucose measurements and talking through any concerns they may have before or after they see a physician.
- The care team also places a priority on mental health. For example, any physicals that are given to a child age 11 or older must include a depression screening. Certain answers trigger treatment and follow-up to make sure the issues are addressed.
“There have been several situations where we’ve discovered suicidal thoughts or self-harm behaviors like cutting, and the parents have been completely unaware,” says Dr. Stovall.
So far, Sanitas Medical Centers and BlueCross have opened 8 primary care offices in the state.
West Tennessee / Memphis
Middle Tennessee / Nashville
- East Nashville
- Cool Springs
“Sometimes peoples’ plates are full, and they’re just trying to manage day-to-day,” Dr. Stovall says. “Sometimes all it takes is having someone to help you take that one next right step. That’s what we’re doing at Sanitas, and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.”