“Imagine taking care of a patient and keeping that patient healthy without obstacles of care fragmentation,” Dr. Amy Schuerman-Gen, vice president of clinical operations for DaVita Integrated Kidney Care (IKC), said during a panel conversation at the Value-Based Payment Summit last month. She was joined by Dr. Abhi Kshirsagar of UNC Kidney Center and Dr. Alice Wei of Strive Health to discuss “Kidney Care Transformation” through value-based arrangements.
During the panel, Schuerman-Gen said she can see that vision of reducing obstacles and less fragmentation in health care becoming a reality in her work with DaVita IKC. She attributes it to having the right partnerships and right tools in place. However, she also recognized that this can be challenging for nephrologist partners:
“It’s a change. How will their practice be affected? Are they too small or too big to succeed? Will they need to increase their overhead?” she said, citing common questions for physicians just venturing into value-based care programs. “My advice would be to jump in now. Partner with a company that has resources that can help your practice.”
“My advice would be to jump in now. Partner with a company that has resources that can help your practice.”
- Dr. Amy Schuerman-Gen
She explained, these partner companies can—and should—continue to search for and implement simplicity in what can often be complex arrangements.
It’s also through these partnerships and value-based arrangements that Schuerman-Gen sees vast potential for innovation. She explained how DaVita is expediting cardiac clearance for patients who need access placement using Heartbeat Health and relationships with community cardiologists; streamlining the transplant process through MedSleuth and innovating new tools like predictive analytics models that help clinicians identify and intervene with patients at higher risk of negative health events.
Schuerman-Gen also underscored the importance of creating improved care experiences for patients as the goal of value-based care. “For me this transformation is all about our patients,” she says. “Keeping them at the center of what we do is paramount.”
She cited one patient story to demonstrate the opportunities integrated care programs can create:
The patient started in-center hemodialysis treatments at a DaVita center with a central venous catheter (CVC), which is associated with higher risk of infection. The patient was eligible for DaVita IKC services through a value-based program, which provided additional services with the aim of total well-being.
In the first year of receiving DaVita IKC services, she had the CVC removed and replaced with a fistula access, and her general health began to improve. The patient was able to better manage her blood sugar and experienced improved mental health.
With this progress, the patient started learning more about kidney transplantation and had bariatric surgery to support her transplant journey. In November 2022, the patient received a successful transplant and no longer receives dialysis treatments.
“To me, this is just an amazing story of truly integrated patient-centered care and an amazing impact on this patient’s life and her family’s life,” Schuerman-Gen says. “That’s value-based care at its finest.”