“That first year we were literally renovating the office ourselves,” Dr. Stich says with a laugh. Wild Health today has come a long way from the startup it was three years ago. With over 1,100 members, two locations, and contracts with dozens of regional employers, the Wild Health team shows no sign of slowing down.
Our goal is to serve more and more patients with the same degree of care, and to make it less risky for a doctor to start their own DPC clinic”
Wild Health exists to give people unparalleled access to high quality, affordable primary care. But they also want to give doctors easier access to building their own DPC practice. They’re doing this by establishing a franchise model for the Wild Health brand. “We want to empower doctors to build the kinds of relationships with patients that they had in mind when they went to medical school,” says Williford.
While Wild Health started out using an all-in-one EMR and membership management tool, it wasn’t long before they ran up against major limitations to maintaining good employer relationships. “When we started talking to employers who wanted data to know whether they were getting a good return on their investment, we kind of looked at them with our mouths gaping open,” Dr. Stich says.
More challenging was the fact that every direct-to-employer contracting relationship is different. Variations in contract terms, pricing arrangements, employment eligibility rules, billing and invoicing requirements, and enrollment cycles all required custom, employer-specific administrative capabilities that they didn’t have. Automation and flexibility became priorities as they searched for a new tech stack. Then they had a demo of the HintOS practice management platform and the popular electronic medical record Elation.
HintOS Employer Engine™ helped simplify Wild Health’s employer relationships. In the eight months since switching from the old software to HintOS and Elation, Wild Health managed to triple their number of employer contracts.
Without HintOS, we wouldn’t have been able to grow as rapidly with employers”
Unlike their old software, HintOS’s end-to-end automation gave Wild Health the ability to scale faster and cheaper than before. Some of the most helpful capabilities include:
Automated employer contract and rules management
Automated employer invoice generation, billing, payment processing, communication management, financial reporting, and accounting
Self-service online portal for employers to easily keep information updated
Automated post-enrollment actions
Automatically sync changes to employee eligibility in real-time with Eligibility AutoSync™
Track trends by physician and location with cross-employer membership analytics
With its deep integrations to other clinical and business tools (e.g. EHR, patient communications, advanced reporting, accounting software, etc.), HintOS gave Wild Health the freedom and flexibility to choose the right combination of software—all connected with each other—to meet their needs.
Elation's ability to pull utilization reports and demonstrate employer ROI also contributed greatly to Wild Health’s growth. “The integration between HintOS and Elation eliminates any double data entry and enabled our clinical teams to have real-time insight into our members’ eligibility statuses, membership plans, employer associations and payment statuses,” Williford says. HintOS pushes all critical data into Elation for clinical and administrative teams to see, removing the need to move between systems.
Finally, growing their capacity without increasing labor and overhead costs made success affordable. Williford estimates that without HintOS, he would have had to hire two additional full-time employees.
Employer contracting has been crucial to Wild Health’s growth. For Tania Orihuela, co-owner and Human Resources director of Kentucky Marble & Granite, paying for her employees’ membership fees alongside a high-deductible health plan has reaped rewards in three ways:
Fewer sick call-outs and greater productivity
$7,000 in monthly healthcare savings
More comprehensive employee benefits
“We've been able to reinvest into the company a lot, because our costs for employee healthcare have gone from about $12,000 per month to around $5,000. That makes a very big difference—being able to turn around and inject more money into our company.” With those savings, says Orihuela, she’s been able to offer dental, vision, and life insurance, as well as purchase a high-tech robotic arm that cranks out 40-50 kitchen countertops per week.
Tania Orihuela, co-owner of Kentucky Marble & Granite, with the robotic arm that she was able to purchase using savings from the new benefits package centered around a direct primary care membership at Wild Health.
To DPC practices that are wary of working with employers or benefits advisors, Dr. Stich has some advice, “Try to maintain a good mix of employers and retail patients such that if you lose one contract, you will still be able to pay your bills. Vet benefits brokers carefully. It’s best to find a Health Rosetta-certified broker because their incentives are aligned with patient outcomes, not centered on kickbacks.”
Those who follow DPC innovators should keep a close eye on the Wild Health team. In the long run, Williford and Dr. Stich would like to see even more locations of the Wild Health franchise that can collectively care for larger employee populations. Their next goal is to launch a telehealth DPC practice that aims to serve remote employees well beyond their Kentucky backyard.
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