Based in Michigan, Alcona Citizens for Health, Inc. (Alcona) is a medical group with offices in nine locations. As one of the founding members of Caravan’s Collaborative ACO, Alcona has participated since 2014.
With population health practices well established among staff and providers, Alcona prepared to implement new methods of care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. One priority was virtual care. Alcona’s specialty clinics had already opened their virtual care doors and had been successfully conducting BHI appointments from FQHCs. With one goal, to serve their patients to the best of their abilities, they expanded their virtual care services.
They began by looking at the providers who were already performing telehealth visits and one provider stepped forward to set the stage for the entire health system. Alcona ensured that providers, staff, and patients were equipped with the tools, resources, and information required to be successful by using well-engrained population health methodologies.
When challenges presented themselves, each time Alcona successfully course-corrected. When Skype wasn’t reliable in their area, they determined Zoom was. When patients didn’t have ready access to Wi-Fi, they created ‘Hot Spots’ in clinic parking lots – areas cordoned off specifically for telehealth appointments. For patients who didn’t own a smartphone or laptop, they provided tablets for them to use from the safety of their car – tablets donated by staff and employees, reformatted and prepared by IT teams to make them user-friendly. Every Alcona clinic had a ‘telehealth mini-launch’ that provided staff the resources and information they needed to develop workflows, use Zoom, ensure proper documentation and troubleshoot issues.
Within two weeks, Alcona had converted 100% of their sites to virtual care practices and were successfully seeing 35-40% of their patients virtually. The majority of patients were seen through telehealth from their homes and each day, between 35-50 patients had appointments from the ‘Hot Spot’ zone in the designated spaces in the parking lot. The ‘drive-up telehealth’ gave patients the ability to safely see and be seen despite having no access to smart devices or technology.
Today, Alcona has begun to see more patients in office settings, however they continue to see patients virtually from home and from the ‘drive-up telehealth’ parking spaces.
“Telehealth has worked out great, we’ve served so many patients we would not have been able to see if we hadn’t put this in place.”
Caitlin Schlappi, RN
Alcona Citizens for Health, Inc.