Hartford HealthCare CEO Jeffrey Flaks is looking at home care for the system's next potential partnership as a way to solve patient access issues.
"There are more opportunities to figure out how to move lower-acuity care out of the expensive hospital setting into more affordable settings, where care can be done at a fraction of the price with higher performance," Flaks said. "People build more offices, they hire more providers and it [still] takes us longer to get a physical and even longer to get a specialty visit."
Over the past year, Flaks has negotiated partnerships with several non-traditional healthcare players. A deal the $5 billion system based in Hartford, Connecticut, signed earlier this month with direct-to-consumer telehealth company Hims & Hers means the system will receive referrals from Hims & Hers for Connecticut patients who need in-person follow-up care.
In the past two years, the seven-hospital Hartford system also has partnered with Walgreens, Amazon’s One Medical, urgent care company GoHealth and telemedicine kiosk company OnMed. Hartford has also partnered with venture capital firms Morningside Group and Connecticut Innovations to bring startup leaders into an incubator space within its headquarters to develop pilots and work with clinical experts.
In an interview, Flaks talked about the need for partnerships and his interest in home-based care and artificial intelligence. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How is Hartford HealthCare looking to innovate in 2024?
We opened our first OnMed [kiosk] Station last week. I think it’s an incredible opportunity to bring care to rural and underserved communities.Within our headquarters, we’re opening a new urgent care center concept in partnership with GoHealth. It will effectively be a virtual urgent care model. If you want to be seen in extended hours, the provider is going to be on the screen while a medical assistant will support the patient visit.
To solve the access problem in healthcare, you have to be a house with a thousand doors. The key is to meet people where they are and ensure no community is left behind. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach because there has to be different solutions for every community. We can deploy Amazon One Medical clinics, the GoHealth virtual help desk, the OnMed station or meet people through Hims & Hers. We are opening up five Hartford HealthCare clinics to operate within Walgreens locations. These new emerging approaches are exciting and they have the potential to be very impactful.
What areas of medicine are you looking to partner with next?
There are exciting things happening in home-based care. We're very excited about care moving into the home through [remote] monitoring and extended services. There are opportunities relative to that.
We want to serve our patients so they can get services when they want and where they want. It could be 2 a.m. It may be in their home. It may be two miles from their home. It may be 10 miles from their office. The point is we have to figure out a way to meet people's expectations and accelerate care in a way that improves quality and patient satisfaction.
How do you handle revenue-sharing with these partnerships?
They’re all different but what's similar is it's less about the structure of the deal and more about what opportunities you're solving for and how does that fit into the broader strategy. We want to be the most trusted [provider] for personalized, coordinated care. So we have to figure out how do these [partnerships] fit into the vision and how do they fit in ultimately to our model to move away from fee-for-service into a more value-based care.
Where are you looking to add generative AI capabilities within Hartford?
Generative AI can limit risk to some extent, in terms of the efficiency and effectiveness of communication and documentation to patients. But it also could dramatically improve the quality of the patient encounter and experience by virtue of making the automated aspects of the visit much more efficient. It can also have a positive effect on burnout as we figure out better ways to do things. We're absolutely embracing these potential opportunities. We’re piloting some stuff on documentation. It’s in the early stages of development.