Technology partnership aims Kidney disease Treatment.
Strive Health and Southern California Kidney Consultants have partnered to improve the outcomes and management of chronic care for Medicare patients with kidney disease.
A joint entity was formed by the largest nephrology practice in Orange County, California and a Denver-based technology company to provide better quality and more cost-effective kidney care.
Strive Health and Southern California Kidney Consultants (SCKC), have teamed up to create a joint venture that targets Medicare beneficiaries in Southern California. Each partner receives financial benefits, management and governance of risk contracts with Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans. This is aimed at improving outcomes while reducing costs.
The partnership includes 21 providers based mostly in Orange County who provide care for 5,000 patients suffering from chronic kidney disease (CKD), and end-stage renal disease (ESKD). SCKC, which leverages Strive’s platform to combat the progression of kidney disease, aims at preventing it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), kidney disease affects 37 million Americans, which is 15% of the US adult population. This includes more than 38% for those over 65. The unmanaged medical costs incurred by kidney disease amount to $410 billion annually. This highlights the need for payment models that focus on outcomes.
Nirav Gandhi MD (nephrologist), is one of SKC’s owners and partners. “We know our commitment to value-based models makes our practice a leader within the community,” he says. “We considered several potential partners for our journey, but Strive has the best vision, capabilities, and team in value-based kidney health care.
SCKC/Strive will contract with Medicare, Medicare Advantage and IPAs to assume risk about the outcomes and costs for their kidney patients. Strive will provide SCKC with data and technology resources, administrative expertise, management support, and an interdisciplinary clinical care team that includes nurse practitioners, dietitians and pharmacists. Care coordinators and licensed clinical social workers are also available from Strive. They act as an extension to the nephrologist and help patients manage comorbidities such as diabetes.
“For so many years, the investments made in this area have been focused on treating kidney failure patients once their kidneys stop working,” states Ben Kuhn senior vice president for partnerships and growth at Strive Health. Strive partnership focuses on getting upstream and intervening with patients suffering from chronic kidney disease. This will help to delay or prevent the progression of kidney disease and ultimately lead to kidney failure. This is in the best interests of patients, providers, and payers.
SCKC hopes the partnership will end the vicious circle of patients not following up with their healthcare providers or keeping in touch promptly. This can lead to poor health outcomes, even death.
Gandhi says that we receive referrals from patients with mild, moderate or severe kidney disease. Sometimes, these patients are unable to follow-up or adhere to the necessary treatments. Sometimes they end up in the emergency room, and are diagnosed with advanced kidney disease.
Gandhi says that SCKC’s owners/partners were diligent in deciding whether or not to partner with Strive.
He says, “Anytime you have a group of doctors with a bit of intelligence and an ego, we all will have our opinions.” Strive was not the only company that we spoke with. “We have been working on this project for more than 18 months. We also presented to other companies. We also spoke with large analysis companies to determine who would be the best partner to help us accomplish our goals.
There were many competitive approaches, from healthcare companies looking to be in the healthcare industry to companies that are trying to be analytics.
Gandhi said, “We thought Strive was kind of both.”
SCKC will use Strive’s technology platform to get a complete picture of each patient’s experience. Strive gathers data from hundreds of sources. This information can be used to paint a picture of the patient’s risk of being hospitalized or progressing to disease. It will help nephrologists tailor their care to each patient’s needs.
Kuhn states that “we’re giving leading nephrology organizations the ability to intervene sooner based on data which enhances patient experience and makes costly treatments less necessary.” “SCKC has taken advantage of these innovations and both the group and its patients are well-positioned for success in the future kidney care.”
The SCKC/Strive partnership is also compatible with the Comprehensive Kidney Care Contracting Program, which was launched in 2021 at the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services Innovation Center. This program allows nephrologists to take on value-based care incentives for Medicare beneficiaries they already see.
Gandhi says, “We weren’t going to join someone where we weren’t heavily involved in decision making because we still believe we know better than anyone else what it takes to take care of these patients.”
Strive has more than 56,000 patients suffering from CKD or ESKD. This is possible through partnerships with nephrologists as well as other arrangements with payers/providers. In 2022, Strive signed a partnership led by nephrologists with Nephrology Associates of Northern Illinois and Indiana, which is the largest nephrology group in the country.