WellBe Senior Medical is expanding its footprint, this time through an entrance into Oregon.
“We’re working on additional expansions, likely to come in 2024, that will bring us into Washington, and a couple other states out in the Pacific Northwest,” Mike Stuart, chief growth officer at WellBe, told Home Health Care News. “We’re excited to get started in Oregon.”
The Chicago-based WellBe offers home-based medical care services, including integrated mobile urgent care, in seven states: Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Utah, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The company serves just north of 106,000 patients.
Its latest expansion will allow the company to serve rural communities across Oregon.
“The mission of WellBe is to serve members that are truly homebound, frail, polychronic and elderly,” Stuart said. “These are people who, frankly, just need these services the most and benefit from care being brought to them. It’s a natural progression to bring care to rural communities. In many rural areas, you’re seeing hospital closures. There’s a lack of providers in those regions, and patients have to travel pretty significant distances to get care.”
This leads to patients delaying much needed care. It also means that patients aren’t receiving preventative care, according to Stuart.
“There’s a missed opportunity for preventative care, because a lot of patients that live in those communities tend to wait until they get to the point where they need to go seek out medical services,” he said. “By that point conditions have worsened. Things that could have been caught earlier have progressed a little bit further. This is an opportunity to bring early disease detection and proactive care directly to members.”
Though care disparities in rural communities have been receiving more of a spotlight recently, Stuart points out that there are very real challenges providers need to address in order to successfully deliver care in these regions.
“The logistics on it are very complex. In terms of delivering home-based care, figuring out how to adequately staff, particularly in areas of the country that have staffing shortages,” he said.
Stuart noted that broadband issues and transportation are other logistical challenges that providers have to overcome in rural communities.
At WellBe, being payer agnostic — working with multiple payer sources and health plans — has allowed the company to create better density for its care teams by strategically deploying them.
“We’re able to support greater numbers of members, which makes our teams more efficient,” Stuart said. “Additionally, we’re solving those challenges like lack of internet access by being able to meet patients directly in the home. Because we’re able to go directly to the home, we actually get a better understanding of what’s going on with the members within their own home environment. A lot of times patients present themselves at the clinic in one way, but the realities of the home are very different.”
Ultimately, Stuart sees this as an opportunity for WellBe to expand its reach.
“Just like we’ve expanded nearly statewide in other states, our goal is to continue to grow in Oregon to cover more and more of the counties there,” he said. “In terms of the future, this is an opportunity to plant a flag in the Pacific Northwest and to grow into adjacent states and additional markets. We’re trying to bring comprehensive care to as many frail elderly seniors as possible across the country.”