The Future of Innovative Collaborations in Healthcare

Today’s healthcare models are hardly recognizable from the 1960s. In this environment of shifting healthcare structures, we know one thing is stronger than ever: Patients have become accustomed to getting what they want when they want it, and they want to pay less and get more.

Fortunately, there are some intriguing collaborations on the horizon that could make things less complicated, more convenient and less expensive.

“Regardless of the exact nature of the collaboration, the goals of those of us interested in innovative partnerships are to streamline patient care, increase patient access to care, improve outcomes and reduce costs,” says OrthoNOW co-founder and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alejandro Badia. “We have a partnership with Uber, where the app connects directly to Uber and the patient is taken to the nearest OrthoNOW center; the app alerts the staff to be on the lookout for the patient.”

In the world of mega-mergers, CVS-Aetna ranks high. With more than 9,700 drugstores in its network, CVS can now access Aetna’s roughly 22 million members. And as UnitedHealth Group’s Optum continues to acquire providers, it can now reach 80 payers and 15 million individuals.

“For walk-in healthcare franchises this means the opportunity to partner with pharmacies and other entities to create efficiency for patients and profits for the franchise,” says Christine Dura, OrthoNOW’s chief development officer. “One way to do this is by enhancing or creating new institutional referral sources. Maybe you reach out to local hotels whose guests may require unexpected medical attention during their visit. Perhaps you might work with local schools who may have to send kids for medical help at a moment’s notice. There is a myriad of possibilities.”

According to Badia, a variety of joint-ventures are cropping up. A walk-in healthcare center may enter into a joint-venture by partnering with a hospital, working out various arrangements regarding majority interest and capital investments.

“An interesting type of joint-venture is the recent purchase of Nurses Unlimited by post-acute provider AccentCare Inc. in Texas, which has meant that AccentCare can now provide home healthcare services in every county in Texas,” says Badia.

And what’s to prevent healthcare providers from reaching out to surrounding churches and schools to offer health screenings and patient education? An article on states “hospital readmissions often occur because of the simplest things — inadequate food sources, loneliness or a lack of access to primary care.” Providers should be looking to collaborate with the community to engage and improve the quality of its citizens to reduce the number of readmissions.

“Walk-in healthcare franchises have a real opportunity to be a force for good in the community,” says Badia. “If indeed people are reappearing at emergency rooms due to a fundamental loneliness — in addition to a medical condition — then perhaps there is a model where walk-in healthcare facilities partner with one or more of a city’s social work programs.”

Innovative partnership opportunities exist all the way from low-tech/high-touch to high-tech. Enter, the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), an interconnected web of wearable devices and sensors.

“In this realm,” says Badia, “walk-in healthcare franchises could partner with a portable diagnostic device manufacturer to make it possible to retrieve data on elderly patients without them having to come in for a visit. This is particularly helpful in rural areas, where transportation can be problematic.”

And note this gem from France. An article on discusses a partnership between two companies and a hospital whereby they are detecting rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups using a connected wristband, and doing so with a reliability rate of 96 percent.

“Such technology could be helpful for the team at a walk-in healthcare franchise,” says Badia. “Not only would developing a partnership with such a company aid in clinical care, but it would boost patient engagement because these individuals would have the sense that someone cares enough to pay close attention.”

And happy patients are patients who return.