ALBANY — Health insurer CDPHP and the area’s largest independent physician practice, Community Care Physicians, are forming a management partnership.
The two will remain separate entities, and Community Care will retain its identity, autonomy and arrangements with other insurers, CDPHP said in an announcement Thursday.
The management services organization proposed through the partnership would provide administrative services to Community Care’s clinical practices. It would be owned by CDPHP, be staffed with the current non-clinical employees of Community Care, and be based in the new headquarters in Latham that Community Care announced earlier this year.
The partnership is awaiting state regulatory approval but is expected to close by Dec. 31.
Community Care said in a news release that the deal will boost quality of care and patient experience.
“Together, we will take a comprehensive patient approach to population health management, using integrated data and analytics that will help patients live longer, healthier, and happier lives,” said Dr. Shirish Parikh, founder and CEO of Community Care.
Dr. John Bennett, president and CEO of CDPHP, called it a next step in the insurer’s move to value-based reimbursement, through which medical providers are paid based on patient outcomes rather than services provided.
Bennett has directed other steps to integrate health care on a smaller scale, including embedding CDPHP staff at large local hospitals. CDPHP also purchased a pharmacy and, earlier this year, launched what it called the doctor’s office of the future — a large new Clifton Park facility that brings multiple specialty practices under a single roof with CDPHP.
Comparatively, that office was a pilot project and the partnership with Community Care is full scale, Bennett said Thursday.
CDPHP and other health insurers have evolved over the last couple of decades from background organizations that paid bills to visible and active advocates for their members’ health. Encouraging people to be healthy while making their path to health easier and less expensive has an upfront cost but it reduces the longer-term costs of poor health, Bennett explained.
“Making people healthier reduces costs of their care and insurance,” he said. “We do sell health insurance, obviously, but we don’t look at ourselves as an insurance company, we look at ourselves as a company devoted to health.”
The integrated systems built by Kaiser Permanente and Geisinger — both health insurers also own hospitals, research centers, a medical school — follow the payvider model, combining the entities that provide and pay for care not just under one roof but within one management system.
It’s the direction Bennett has been trying to move CDPHP, and the Community Care agreement furthers that effort.
“This is really about the integrated delivery system and this is a first step,” he said Thursday.
CDPHP said the management services organization (which doesn’t have a name yet) should be invisible to patients: Medical practices will retain the same name, location and care providers, and will accept the same insurance plans.
And the workforce will remain unchanged, Bennett said.
“Some people will have their employer of record change, but there’ll be no loss of jobs,” he said. “On day one, everything will look the same.”
Community Care employs nearly 1,800 people across 70 practices in eight counties, including more than 420 clinicians in 30 specialties. CDPHP’s 1,200 employees manage coverage for 400,000 members in 29 upstate counties.