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CareHere Transforming HealthCare in NKY

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Earlier this year, when Steve Hensley received the results of his regularly scheduled wellness blood test, both he and his healthcare provider from CareHere were concerned. 

The test showed that Hensley, Kenton County's director of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, had a slightly elevated Prostate-Specific Antigen, or PSA, level, which can be an early indicator of prostate cancer.

"I had been on a weight loss program, so I was having monthly blood draws," said Hensley, a career law enforcement officer and emergency management expert who is not easily rattled. "When the elevated PSA came in, I was concerned, and so was CareHere. Discussions began about recommendations for the best specialist and getting me set up with an appointment.” 

But then the CareHere physician asked Hensley a curious question; had he recently experienced a fall?

"I thought it was a little bit of an odd question, but I did remember that I had slipped and fallen on a concrete floor around Christmas," Hensley said. "Well, it turns out a fall can trigger the PSA to elevate."

The specialist appointment was avoided, Hensley is continuing with his zero co-pay blood draws through CareHere, and his CareHere Provider is closely monitoring those results. Meanwhile, Hensley's PSA is returning to a normal level and the visit to the specialist turned out not to be necessary.

"That's the kind of smart, compassionate, convenient care that Kenton County employees receive from CareHere," Hensley said. "They knew I was concerned, and they really helped me through the process. It says a lot about Kenton County for thinking of their employees and their families by making sure that such quality care is accessible."

CareHere, a Nashville-based pioneer and innovator in the population health management space, has transformed the delivery of healthcare across Northern Kentucky. Through its network of convenient, employer-based health and wellness centers, CareHere is saving local governments and taxpayers money while employees benefit with zero dollar co-pays and no deductibles for primary care and chronic care visits.

"Providing a low-cost alternative to Primary Care with completely integrated wellness saves tax dollars and removes all barriers for employees to seek treatment and avoid future and often higher claims," said Kenton County Administrator Joe Shriver. "By getting the necessary wellness and treatment early on and when needed, it also saves long term costs to the medical plan."

For example, Shriver said, prescribing cholesterol medicine is much cheaper than the associated health costs related to a stroke or heart attack. Performing occupational health services - such as pre-employment physicals, drug testing, Department of Transportation recertifications - saves substantial dollars as well, he said.

Shriver estimates that since 2014, CareHere - which operates an onsite health and wellness center on the first floor of the Kenton County Administration Building in Covington - has saved the county nearly $1.3 million.

"And that does not include the productivity savings of getting folks in for appointments with no wait and the medicine they need quickly and back to work," Shriver said. 

In addition to Kenton County, CareHere's Northern Kentucky public sector partners include Covington, Florence, Newport, Erlanger, Edgewood, Independence, Newport and SD1. It also partners with private sector employers such as Toyota Tsusho America Inc. and Rosedale Green.

Founded in 2004, CareHere operates more than 200 health and wellness centers that provide care to patients in 27 states. 

"Staying true to our vision, we are breaking barriers to revolutionize healthcare by making it easier, better and more affordable," said CareHere's co-founder and COO Ben Baker. "Our innovative model has a proven track record of significantly improving the health of patients while reducing the overall healthcare spend for both patients and their employees."

CareHere's on-site health centers improve productivity because employees don't have to leave work for a medical appointment and they are more aware about their personal health situation and needs, said Florence Mayor Diane Whalen.

"Our employees seem to take better care of themselves with the on-site health center, and that will go a long way in the future with preventing and limiting health issues," Mayor Whalen said. 

"CareHere is a great partner from helping build the center, to hiring the providers that we approve and continually keeping an eye on what’s new in the healthcare industry and bringing those options to us," Mayor Whalen said.

Florence and other local governments are also utilizing the convenience of the CareHere electronic scheduler. It allows member patients to make appointments 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at CareHere.com or on the CareHere mobile App, eliminating the need to fill out insurance paperwork or wait for a doctor's office to open. The system prevents double booking, ensuring little or no wait when patients arrive for their appointment.

 "The CareHere App makes it easier to make appointments and keep up with wellness programs," Mayor Whalen said.

Quality care and convenience are what Florence Public Works Director Eric Hall appreciates about CareHere. He has visited CareHere locations in the Florence Government Center as well as in Covington and enjoys the ease and simplicity of scheduling appointments through the CareHere App.

"But most important is the quality of the staff," Hall said. "No matter what the circumstance, the CareHere providers have helped improve my health through treating illnesses and other conditions to performing Health Risk Assessments."

Jason Cobb, an accountant with the City of Florence, said he has seen CareHere providers for everything from acute care to preventative testing and basic health testing. He said CareHere strikes the important balance between convenience and quality.

"I like the fact that the appointments are set," Cobb said. "If your appointment is for 1:00 p.m., you are back getting your vitals taken at 1:00 p.m. and the doctor is ready as soon as those are completed. The doctors and nurses are very knowledgeable and personable. They get to know you and are sincerely interested in your well-being, not just getting patients in and out."

CareHere's development and utilization of the latest technology is a major benefit to employees with the City of Independence, said City Manager Chris Moriconi.

"The technology utilized within their on-line scheduling and the CareHere App is extremely user friendly," Moriconi said. "And once inside a CareHere facility, they look and feel exactly like a doctor's office."

Independence Police Officer Danny Potts said the convenience offered by CareHere is important to someone like him, a young father who works various shifts and who does not have time to waste sitting in a doctor's office or on hold waiting to make an appointment over the phone.

"I went in for a vaccination for my six-month old son, and were in and out so easily," Officer Potts said. "On another visit, I had to have blood drawn. I easily scheduled the appointment, had no wait when I arrived and was back at work in just a couple of minutes."

Officer Potts also regularly meets with a CareHere health coach, which is another service the company provides.

"I talk to her once a month or so," he said. "We have an in-depth conversation about my blood work, my health habits, steps I can to take to live a healthier life, including nutrition. They work with you, and they hold you accountable, which is something I really appreciate."

CareHere patients can complete their blood work on-site at no cost and receive most medications on-site, skipping the trip to the pharmacy, also at no cost to them. For private entities, savings realized through CareHere keep them competitive, growing and successful; and for public entities efficiencies and controlling costs save tax payer money.

 CareHere's advanced technology and proprietary Electronic Medical Records system protects patient privacy, while allowing employers to easily share health center operational costs across multiple organizations. This process enables CareHere clients to maximize appointment availability, while efficiently controlling costs.

Patient health records, labs and medications can be accessed across all of a patient’s providers, all while ensuring the highest level of patient privacy and data protection. This coordination saves costs and allows clinicians to close gaps in care and improve patient health outcomes.

As with other CareHere partners in Northern Kentucky, Moriconi said he would "absolutely" recommend the company to other self-insured local governments and businesses.

"This is the future for healthcare," Moriconi said. "Organizations can finally manage rising health care costs and take control of their destiny as it relates to providing affordable health care services."