For Jon Hernandez, Chief Strategy Officer of Proactive MD and Managing Director of Proactive Impact Fund, this transaction is part of a much larger dream. Here’s his perspective on Proactive MD’s acquisition of Wellness for Life and goals for the future.
“The biggest problem with healthcare today is not its cost – which is a big problem – but for all that money, it’s not an expression of our humanity.” The first time I read that, it really resonated with me. I’ve worked in healthcare for 26 years doing everything from healthcare informatics to practice management to medical coding/billing. Throughout that time, I kept coming back to a central issue: the inefficiency in healthcare. The misused time, the squandered resources, the prohibitive pricing – is this really the best we can offer patients?
I believe we can – we must – do better. For me, the answer seemed like common sense. I transitioned into primary care because I believe so much of this waste can be addressed on the front lines through vertical integration: Family medicine, in-clinic pharmacy, imaging, labs, physical therapy, behavioral health, urgent care services, and occupational health all under one roof, with one provider acting as quarterback.
I made the attempt 10 years ago to integrate all of these service lines in a “fee-for-service” world. But while coordinating with insurance providers and hospital networks, I continued to see the same inefficiencies (albeit at a decreased level) that plague the healthcare system. I realized we needed a more dramatic solution; this was not a situation where “Healthcare 2.0” was going to work. We needed to figure out something truly innovative, something transformative.
Around that time, I met John Collier and Proactive MD. Talk about an organization breaking the mold. The comprehensive fixed-fee model, the Patient Advocates coordinating care, their proactive approach to promoting population health and reducing health risk factors, and the Edison network bringing patients the lowest prices at the best hospitals had me intrigued. Shortly thereafter, I joined Proactive Impact Fund to drive the future of Advanced Primary Care.
Proactive MD was leading the way with tech, analytics, population health, and chronic disease management. But one of the goals the company was driving towards was how to serve patients across the country. We were finding there was demand from employers and patients for this kind of care throughout the US. And Proactive MD wanted to be able to serve public and private employers – while supporting primary and secondary markets.
Part of my job with the impact fund entailed addressing this and driving investment around it. I immediately thought of Wellness for Life.
Wellness for Life was solving for problems that no other organization was even thinking about – particularly around care delivery in rural areas and the public sector. They weren’t inhibited by the traditional mantras of healthcare companies. Healthcare companies have historically said, “We can’t do this because we can’t make money, we can’t do this because we don’t have relationships, we can’t do this because it’s never been done.” Wellness for Life was not going to be constrained by what the status quo said they couldn’t do.
Instead, they were hustling, because they understood the urgency. Living in southern Indiana, the founders had first-hand knowledge about the need for primary care in these areas. With boots on the ground, they listened to their clients and patients, customizing solutions to fit the needs of these communities. They proved they had the ability to serve underserved markets by being extremely creative with high-quality solutions that promote patient engagement and respect the finances of clients.
When Proactive MD entered discussions with Wellness for Life, we knew this would be the perfect marriage of companies. Through this acquisition, we can now deliver comprehensive care solutions built around the needs of the populations we serve. The combined, improved Proactive MD provides us with the opportunity to service a wider footprint, with more support and expertise, for our patients and clients alike. We now have the ability to service any size group, any client type, in any geographic market across the US. We now truly represent a very diverse client and patient population that we are honored to serve.
This integration has taken place over the past few months – our systems and processes are up and running. Patients can expect to have the same access to care that they have always had and anticipate that Proactive MD is better poised to continually enhance how we serve them. I am humbled to work with our teams across the country. Throughout this period, our corporate and clinical teams have stepped up to make the integration happen without disrupting patient care. I also want to express my gratitude to our capital partner and executive team members for their attitudes of service and commitment to doing what’s right for our patients.
So what’s next? One of my priorities is to continue to validate the Proactive MD model. Over the next five years, we want to demonstrate the costs savings and healthy outcomes that result from this kind of care and drive the industry to take notice.
More than anything, however, I want every interaction at Proactive MD to be an expression of humanity. I think of every patient the way I think of my family. The kind of care I want for my daughter – I want the same quality for every patient in our care. By working to strengthen efficiency in healthcare, Proactive MD is striving to respect patients’ minds, bodies, time, and finances – and hopefully, earn their trust. 2020 will be a big year for Proactive MD. We are continually working hard to bring our patients the very best. Stay tuned.