Novant, Ochsner partnership on older adult care will focus on the whole person, CEOs say

On July 13, New Orleans-based Ochsner Health and Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Novant Health announced they signed a letter of intent to partner on expanding access to care for adults 65 and older. 

The partnership aims to meet the needs of this population "and provide benefits beyond medical care, including social support and wellness resources to care for the whole person."

As part of the partnership, the health systems plan to build 65 Plus clinics throughout the Southeast U.S. 

The clinics will provide access to extended visits with primary care physicians and a multidisciplinary team to design a customized care plan for each patient, Ochsner and Novant said. Each clinic will also offer regular social events, fitness centers and health coaching.

Currently, Ochsner operates 65 Plus clinics in Covington, La.; Baton Rouge, La.; and Pensacola, Fla. 

The Pensacola location will become the first 65 Plus location of the joint venture between them.

Ochsner will continue to fully own and build 65 Plus locations in Louisiana, and the health systems will collaboratively identify additional locations across the Southeast, they said.

Novant Health CEO Carl Armato and Ochsner Health CEO Pete November told Becker's they're excited about the partnership. They discussed the factors that led to the joint venture and how the partnership fits into their growth strategies.

Editor's note: Responses were lightly edited for length and clarity.

Question: How does the partnership fit into the organizations' overall growth strategy?

Carl Armato: We're coming together in this unique partnership to transform care delivery. And we believe we're going to do it by developing innovative solutions and providing greater value to the communities that we serve, not only the ones that we're in, but across the Southeast, by trying to accelerate the transition to value-based care. What I love — and the reason Novant Health is excited to partner with Ochsner — is that we have similar values and common visions. When you think about what we've been committed to, we both have had a strong dedication to improving the health of our communities. And so when I look at this opportunity to combine the intellectual capital of the two organizations, and begin to combine the resources, it's an opportunity for us to do some unique things that could be really beneficial to the people we serve. We're looking to really expand access and create some unique delivery models for people who may have had problems with access in the past.

Pete November: When we sat down and started talking, we didn't immediately go to 65 Plus clinics. We started with, "What's our common vision?" and "What's important to both organizations?" And it was about taking great care of people, innovating healthcare, trying to keep people healthy. And we quickly realized we shared a common vision and so then, we talked about, "Where would be a good place to begin working together?" And the 65 Plus clinics made a lot of sense. It's an innovative way to take care of people. It wraps additional services around traditional care and gives us an opportunity to give people good access, really innovate healthcare. We thought that 65 Plus clinics were a great place to start, but it really did start with realizing that we shared a common vision about what's important.

CA: Also, we both were thinking about how culturally aligned systems can maybe uniquely come together and seek non-merger and acquisition relationships, these new partnerships that could help diversify our growth offerings and create some new capabilities that could help differentiate us when we think about our future growth.

Q: Any other factors that contributed to the decision to partner to serve, specifically, adults 65 and older?

PN: We've been working in the value-based care space in our markets for quite a long time, partly because it's important in the communities we serve. And so we had begun these 65 Plus clinics in Louisiana and have seen great results in terms of quality outcomes, access and patient experience. And so we saw the opportunity to try to expand that further. I think when we were sharing those stories in our conversations with Carl about places where we could really begin to work together, I think that resonated because I know Novant's got a big focus on that and sees the importance. 

CA: Absolutely. Novant has seen dramatic and consistent increases in individuals who are in the 65 and older population, and it's expected to grow over the next decade. So we started to think about how we can create a new delivery model that could be easier to access and give people the time that they might need with their physician, and give them the time that they need to maybe deal with some of the complications that we all are going to deal with at 65 and older. 

When I heard Pete and others describe all that's encompassing in these 65 Plus clinics, it was attractive because it's not only taking care of the physical care, but when you think about the social interaction and the wellness and the prevention that is allowed and created in this environment, I think that's the kind of unique opportunity that really attracted me to wanting to learn more.

Q: How do you see the partnership progressing in the future?

PN: The first location that would be in the partnership is the one in Pensacola. And that is up and running today. It'll be part of the partnership. And then we've been working with the Novant team about planning out where other 65 Plus clinic locations would be, and that work is still underway, so we're not ready to talk about specific locations. But we're starting in Pensacola, and then we'll have some exciting discussions about other markets and other places that we could grow together.

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