On-Site Clinic Provider IMWell Grows Client Base in Region

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Apr. 9, 2012 12:00 am  

Parker himself took note of Womack shortly after. He already had experience in self-funded health care; he had been CEO of HealthScope Benefits Inc. of Little Rock, a third-party administrator.

"I knew that ... convenient and low-cost access to primary care is the true solution to managing total health care costs," he said. "And I knew that Dr. Womack had something working quite well."

In 2006, Parker joined Womack as a business partner. He said he was "determined that we could reach more people by expanding that business to a full-blown family practice type of service."

Early clients signed on quickly, Parker said, and soon IMWell was growing into a network of clinics. Womack stayed with the company in Fort Smith, and Parker became CEO.

"With these clinics, we've been able to manage chronic diseases more cost effectively and reduce emergency room encounters, and we are able to increase generic drug utilization," Parker said.

Chad Collins, who works in business development for IMWell, said the differences between client costs for an IMWell visit versus a visit to the emergency room were significant.

"When a patient goes to the ER for primary care like a sore throat or a sprained ankle, it could cost ... $300 to $350 per visit," he said. "The typical cost here is $140. We keep people out of the ER so they can go to the ER for something like a car accident or other large things, and for those acute care issues that are not as critical or urgent, they can come here."

Parker said some client companies have enjoyed stable health care costs for five years, and IMWell claims to lower ER use among client employees by 20 percent and to increase the use of cheaper generic drugs by 7 to 8 percent.

"The cost differential when measuring overall cost for treatment of diabetes and hypertension, we tend to be about 50 percent less on average," Parker said.

Erin Holleman, an advanced-practice nurse in the company's Little Rock clinic, said patients benefit financially as well.

"When patients come to us, they don't have a co-pay for anything," Holleman said, "especially on minor procedures."

Holleman said she can easily treat ailments like cysts that otherwise would require a patient to go to a dermatologist to be referred to a specialist, enduring co-pays - and costs to their employers - for both.  



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