Oak Street Health of Chicago wants to improve health care for adult Medicare patients in central Arkansas.
“Our mission is to rebuild health care as it should be,” said Jonathan DeZwaan, regional vice president at Oak Street Health. “What we focus on is quality of care, rather than the volume of services.”
Last month, Oak Street Health opened its first primary care center in Little Rock and another location is planned to open in North Little Rock on Oct. 13. The company has been owned since May by CVS Health of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, which acquired the it in a $10.6 billion deal.
“We deliver personal and preventative care within our model,” DeZwaan said. “It’s specifically designed to meet the unique needs of our older adults who face chronic illnesses with a focus on equity and closing health disparities.”
OSH is reimbursed on a per member, per month basis, which means its providers can spend more time with patients. Appointments could be 20 or 40-minute sessions.
“The idea of never wanting to feel rushed is paramount to all of us as providers,” said Dr. Eric Beaver, OSH’s senior medical director. “It’s just rare that we actually get that.”
OSH doctors also have about a fourth of the total number of patients than the average primary care physician, he said. But OSH doctors see their patients more often than the average primary care doctor.
“That really builds these relationships,” he said. “That is such a big boost for our providers. Also we’re not missing things and keeping [patients] happy, healthy and out of the hospital.”
The company was founded in 2012 to address rising costs and poor outcomes in health care. “Health care is broken,” said Beaver. “We have the most expensive health care system and some of the worst outcomes in the world.”
He said throwing money at the problem isn’t going to solve it.
“We’re trying to rebuild health care the way it should be,” he said. “And the first step to doing that is probably undoing a lot of the things we’ve done historically.”
And the company’s model seems to have had an impact. Over the years, OSH has seen a 51% drop in patient hospital admission compared with Medicare benchmarks, DeZwaan said.
“We have found a 42% reduction in 30-day readmission rate, and 51% reduction in emergency department visits,” he said. “And so we truly do believe we are making an impact in each of the community and personal lives of every patient that is interacting with Oak Street Health.”
The clinic’s Little Rock office at 5500 W. 12th St. has 12 exam rooms. Its North Little Rock location will be at 2933 Lakewood Village Drive.
Each center has between five or six providers. The Little Rock location is staffed with one physician, two physician assistants and a nurse practitioner.
DeZwaan said the company doesn’t disclose the startup cost of its centers. But both clinics expect to eventually employ 35 to 50 workers.
Oak Street Health’s revenue was $2.16 billion in 2022, up 51% from the previous year. But the company’s net loss widened to $509.7 million compared with $228.9 million in 2021.
In a news release, CVS Health said buying Oak Street “will broaden CVS Health’s value-based primary care platform and significantly benefit patients’ long-term health by improving outcomes and reducing costs — particularly for those in underserved communities.”
In a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, CVS Health said Oak Street Health ended the second quarter with 177 centers and it expects to build 50 to 60 clinics in 2024.