The horns of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” blast out of speakers. Patient art hangs on the wall. Scrabble, Boggle and other board games sit on a bookshelf.
The “waiting room” of the Oak Street Health clinic in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood on the city’s South Side looks more like a community center than a doctor’s office, and that’s how patients treat it.
On a recent afternoon, conversations between caregivers and patients span Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish and English. Some are using a row of computers to stay atop their daily tasks. Others huddle around a table like friends having lunch.
Shedding the stereotypical medical office vibe is important, said Dr. Griffin Myers, chief medical officer and co-founder of privately owned Oak Street Health, which tailors care specifically for Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medigap and Medicare-Medicaid beneficiaries through capitated, or full-risk, models.
“We work with folks who justifiably don’t trust the healthcare system anymore,” he said. “Before care, we have to make sure they trust us.”
Oak Street is one of a rapidly growing number of primary-care providers that offer services like transportation and mental healthcare to seniors with complex conditions, and other specific segments of the population. They aim to flip the notion of an “unprofitable patient” by delivering targeted treatments via a lower-cost concierge approach to medicine to stem complications and ultimately avoid hospital stays.
“There is enough money in Medicare and Medicaid, we just don’t have the proper delivery models,” Myers said, describing what he sees as an underinvestment in preventive care and a reliance on reactive care. “At this point, it is more risky not to have a full-risk model.”