More than 30 years ago, six friends vowed to serve their community of East Los Angeles after graduating from medical school. Their pact became one of the largest community-based and Latinx-led private medical groups in California.
Now the promise to provide high-quality care to often marginalized persons, cultivate future physicians and contribute to diversity in the healthcare industry has attracted attention that aims to grow that model even further.
Founded in 1988 as a private for-profit practice operating in medically underserved areas around Los Angeles, Family Care Specialists Medical Group now has more than 120 staff members and an independent physician association with 340 primary-care doctors. The group serves more than 25,000 patients, mostly Latinx and low-income.
“We’ve learned a tremendous amount about healthcare, economics, the community, the impact we have on the community, as well as the individual families that are represented among our workforce,” said Dr. Hector Flores, medical director for Family Care Specialists.
Its nationally recognized inclusive practice and family medicine residency program attracted attention from Altais Clinical Services, which aims to acquire Family Care Specialists. Altais funnels money and resources into independent physician practices looking to expand value-based care.
That will allow Family Care Specialists to continue its mission of patient-centered, affordable care, Flores said.
That will allow physicians to connect with Family Care Specialists’ care team and patients while also being able to access medical record information, he said. Altais’ data reporting and prescriptive analytics may also provide stronger clinical insights to multispecialty physicians.
“Their community-based, value-based care model is very important to Altais,” Bailet said. “It’s a model that we’d like to expand and introduce to other facets of the stakeholders we’re working with.”
Altais was spun off from Blue Shield of California in 2019 and works with 2,700 multispecialty physicians in the Bay Area.
Family Care Specialists’ programs, benefits, brand and management will remain, Flores said.
“We’ve taken great pains to create a culturally competent workforce,” he said. “Language, culture and lived experience in particular are really critical to connecting to the patient.”
Family Care Specialists’ board of directors is composed of all Latinx members, and 90% of the group’s general workforce is Latinx as well. Out of its 29 clinicians, 85% are people of color, Flores said, two-thirds of whom are Latinx and another third who identify as Asian and Pacific Islander. Eighty percent of front-line workers are women, along with the group’s chief operating officer and residency program director.
That’s especially impressive considering only 5.8% of active physicians identified as Latinx in 2019 despite accounting for 18.5% of the U.S. population, according to an AAMC study.
In order to compete with increasingly larger providers, facilities must find ways to grow, he added.
Altais will update the group’s electronic health record system and implement speech-to-text dictation to make the practice more efficient, said Dr. Jeff Bailet, the company’s president and CEO.