After years of the healthcare industry clinging to a traditional fee-for-service model, VillageMD CEO Tim Barry is encouraged by the transition he’s seeing toward a value-based care model.
“Physicians in this country continue to recognize that there is a better way to deliver care and that’s in a more integrated, more connected, more coordinated and patient-centered way,” he said in an interview. “That’s what excites me.”
Barry made these comments after the value-based company announced On Thursday, it completed its $8.9 billion acquisition of Summit Health-City MD. Based in Chicago VillageMDwhich is majority owned by Walgreens Boots Allianceis a primary care provider. Summit Health-CityMD is a provider of primary, specialist and emergency care. The combined company has more than 680 clinics and approximately 20,000 employees, caring for 7 million patients in 26 markets.
He added that he is seeing more collaboration in healthcare between different areas of care.
“We used to talk about primary care physicians all the time … I think it’s starting to pick up more pace with other specialties,” he said. “That part excites me because I don’t believe we’ve ever really solved the problems of our health care system. [We need to] to have doctors in this country who feel empowered and who feel responsible and who know that they can work side by side with their professional colleagues to ensure the best outcome for the patient, and they don’t have to worry about that siled fee-for-service mindset.”
That kind of integrated, value-based care is what Barry is trying to create with the acquisition of VillageMD-Summit Health. Through the acquisition, Summit Health will begin to incorporate VillageMD’s value-based care initiatives, while VillageMD will add Summit Health’s multispecialty care services, Barry said. Some of the multi-specialty services Summit offers include cardiology, gynecology and orthopedics.
“We can bring the best capabilities we have at VillageMD to deliver value- and risk-based care and bring them to Summit,” he stated. “At the same time, we can take that integrated, connected model of care that is Summit’s legacy and bring it to VillageMD so that we can provide more comprehensive services to patients in a more integrated, coordinated way, but always value-based and risk-based contracts that reward us for delivering better results at lower cost.”
However, the future of healthcare is not entirely bright. One thing that worries Barry is the technology’s potential to create a more isolated system. While there are many benefits to digital health in terms of access, it has also led to many point solutions.
“The health care system has all these different fiefdoms, and if all we’re doing is adding more fiefdoms, now we’re just adding them digitally, not physically, we run a greater risk of fragmenting the system… If we end up you see three doctors in a physical environment and then you have three other companies trying to sell you something digitally and you’re engaged with them, they may not be connected and coordinated,” he said. “I think we risk, frankly, just making people more confused, more frustrated, sicker and ultimately costing the health care system more.”
He added that the technology should provide a link between the patient and their primary care physician.
“We need to make sure that these new inventions, these new innovations, think about how they coordinate care more with the patient and their doctor, rather than further separating people from the care plan that they might have with their doctor,” Barry said .