Oak Street Health CMO Promotes Home-Based Care Credentials, New AARP Partnership

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On the heels of a new partnership with AARP, Oak Street Health Inc. (NYSE: OSH) reaffirmed its commitment to home care.

Established in 2012, Oak Street Health, based in Chicago, is a network of value-oriented primary health care centers for adults on Medicare. The company currently operates more than 100 centers in 15 states and serves over 100,000 older adults. The service lines include behavioral medicine, pharmacy, and basic care.

While Oak Street Health is not a traditional home health provider, the company’s willingness to provide care in the most appropriate setting became even more evident with the outbreak of the COVID-19 emergency last year.

“We had always done some form of home care, but when the pandemic broke out it became important that we bring home our patients – who frankly are at the highest risk for coronavirus and all of its downstream consequences,” said Griffin Myers, chief physician at Oak Street Health, told Home Health Care News. “We swerved quickly to get our patients home and out of the center until we could return.”

At the time, this meant the transition from a fully center-based model, which was complemented by home care, to a mostly telemedical model that enabled seniors to receive virtual visits from home.

In addition, Oak Street Health complemented these services by supplying seniors with everything from meals to supplies like toilet paper and more.

While Oak Street Health has returned to its original model, it has retained much of the home care it provided to its patients in the earlier stage of the public health emergency.

“We make hundreds of care visits to the home every day,” Myers said. “The visits come in three flavors.”

One of the ways Oak Street Health enters the home is to offer check-ins designed to verify the security of the senior residence. These home check-ins are performed by the company’s licensed clinical social workers.

Another home care service that Oak Street Health offers is its mobile integrated health model. This offer is available to patients with the company’s highest visual acuity. The model provides patients with an on-demand team that visits patients at home for both clinical and non-clinical emergencies.

“[This ranges from] Home medication education to managing other negative social determinants, ”Myers said. “This team can mobilize and get in pretty quickly to do this.”

Overall, the company’s strongest effort in relation to the home environment is the primary care home model, where licensed clinicians enter the home.

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Generally, GP programs send GPs and other healthcare professionals into the home setting to care for medically complex, high-risk patients. Compared to the traditional office or facility model, home visits offer doctors the opportunity to observe social aspects of health while often spending more time with patients.

“These three services are all orchestrated centrally so that we know which patients need what and how we can help them,” said Myers. “We try to recognize that patients have different needs. The common theme is that they are at home. We were able to put together teams that solve these problems for them in this environment. “

Oak Street Health typically sees a 50% reduction in hospital admissions compared to the national average, according to Myers.

Following its success with its value-based care model, a recent AARP partnership added another feather to the Oak Street Health cap. AARP selected the organization to provide primary health care for Medicare-eligible adults.

In fact, Oak Street Health will be the only GP to bear the AARP name.

“To improve access to health care and offer advice and provider selection to its members, AARP conducted a very extensive national research process to select a value-driven partner, and that’s how we ended up there,” said Myers. “We were selected as a trusted provider largely because of the excellent clinical results and patient experience, as well as our commitment to a truly unique social mission – one that was in our DNA from the start.”

Myers believes that the partnership can also lead to more opportunities for the organization.

“Given the AARP brand and awareness, we all have expectations that we will be selected as partners for this purpose and help us connect with more older adults seeking primary care,” he said. “We’re really looking forward to that.”

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