– AdventHealth Launches New Model with Health Park in Osceola County –
Let’s say your knee hurts. It’s swollen and painful, and you’re having a hard time walking, driving, standing, sitting and even sleeping. You make an appointment with your family doctor, who sends you to a specialist. You make an appointment for later that week, and that specialist writes you a prescription for an X-ray, which eventually leads to a physical therapy appointment, all at separate locations on different dates with clipboards of registration forms at each visit.
It’s situations like these that led AdventHealth to build what it calls a “health park” in Kissimmee, one of several it plans to construct throughout Central Florida. The AdventHealth Partin Settlement Health Park and Emergency Room, which opened in August 2020, pairs the latest technology with concierge-level services, delivering convenient and connected health care all on one campus with personal guides, known as engagement specialists, and one set of records that accompany the patient throughout the process.
“This kind of one-stop-shop concept is something we started formulating about three years ago, with a desire to take care of the majority of patients’ needs outside the hospital,” said Brad Hillmon, vice president and chief operating officer of AdventHealth Orlando. “Most folks only visit the hospital a few times in their lives, if they’re lucky and they’re healthy. We wanted to make sure we had a one-stop-shop model where patients could get the majority of their health care, whether it’s primary care, imaging, labs or specialist care.”
AdventHealth, a nonprofit national hospital system based in Altamonte Springs, chose Osceola County after realizing there was a market in areas of Central Florida not located near its flagship hospital in downtown Orlando.
“There’s a need to take care out to the community where people live and work,” Hillmon said. “How do we take a model that can take care of all those needs and put it where the consumer is, rather than forcing the consumer to come to us at these central hubs when they need care? We started working on that model, and then about two years ago we started looking at places in the community we felt needed it.”
Construction has started on a health park scheduled to open in Clermont in September, and AdventHealth is looking at other areas as well. “The response we’ve seen from this one tells us we might be on to something, and consumers are really responding to it,” Hillmon said. “We’ve got plans for several more.”
The health park concept is all about convenience for the consumer, said Jake McKelvy, vice president of retail services for the Central Florida division of AdventHealth. McKelvy, who also leads the hospital chain’s Primary Care+ and eCare telemedicine services in Central Florida, recently took over the role of overseeing the health park concept from Hillmon, who has been developing it.
“For far too long, accessing care and navigating it has been complicated and cumbersome,” McKelvy said. “Oftentimes it’s left up to the patients to figure out on their own. The health park is striving to put the patient in the middle of the entire experience, making it easy, friendly and accessible, and allowing patients to get everything they need in one visit.”
He spoke about the “magic” of the health park, which consists of a two-story medical office building and a 24-bed freestanding emergency department. “You see other buildings around that have doctors’ offices and imaging centers in one place, but those are often mini-businesses within one building. The magic of the health park is it functions as one business. There is a team of engagement specialists who greet and facilitate the visit of every patient who walks in the door. Regardless of where you’re going in the health park, you’re greeted and escorted by the same team.
“The whole vision is to choreograph visits and personalize the experience for the patient. It’s been really fun to watch over the first few months, with patients remarking on how unique an experience it is compared to what they’ve seen before in health care.”
Health park employees have been specifically trained in hospitality-type customer service for this project. The Osceola health park and ER is expected to create a total of 150 jobs.
“Historically, when you walk into a medical office building, you have to search the hallways looking for the office you’re visiting,” Hillmon said. “Instead, think of it like the Apple store. People are there to greet you. They’re not sitting behind a desk. They have a tablet and they’re greeting you as you walk in, and they’ll walk you to wherever you need to go. There is no place at the health park where I’m sitting at a desk looking up at you. We’ve removed the barriers to working directly with a patient. What that has meant is tremendous response.”
In fact, Hillmon shared the story about a day he was at the health park observing the new operation. A patient who was walking downstairs to get lab work was so enthusiastic about the process that he praised the team out loud. He said, “You’re the Ritz-Carlton of health care. I’ve got to tell all my friends about this because this is unbelievable.”
“He couldn’t believe how assisted he felt,” Hillmon said. “He was having his hand held through the process, and he felt good about that. When you witness things like that, it validates the work we did to bring it up, and it energizes you to improve and continue changing the landscape of health care. It was really awesome to hear that sentiment from a patient.”
Convenience and Connection
AdventHealth incorporated several factors to make patient visits more convenient. One is using electronic records that follow the patient from one medical service to another.
“Electronic health records are pretty common in health care, especially in health systems,” Hillmon said. “What has made this unique is our ability to tie it with our front-end registration system and our patient flow management tool that allows us to seamlessly connect with their record and their schedule. We know them by name when they come in, and we know why they’re there. We can easily connect them with other services.”
Another advantage is the patient’s ability to register virtually via computer or smartphone before they arrive at the health park. “You can sit on your couch at home and register for your appointment,” Hillmon said. “You can take a picture of your insurance card, fill out your consent to treat, and tell the office why you’re coming. Normally when you go to a doctor’s office, they say ‘Here’s a clipboard’ and you get 10 pieces of paper. … This makes it a lot more convenient.”
It was good timing that the health park was preparing to open as COVID-19 was taking hold in Central Florida, Hillmon said. The rest of the AdventHealth system was able to benefit from the work that had been put into setting up the health park, such as the touchless registration process.
Another benefit of the health park is getting the patient from one appointment to another on the same day — and on time, McKelvy said. “One of the hallmarks of the health park is we have these big, beautiful waiting rooms, but by nature of this contactless registration process and a focus on the overall experience, you don’t see many people in them. By design, it’s about getting people into their appointments when they’re scheduled, whether that’s for imaging or primary care or specialists’ offices. We’re focusing on on-time starts and bringing people through as efficiently as possible.”
The health park is also designed to cater to the hours of people who commute to work and take care of families, Hillmon said. “Giving people access to low-cost, high-quality care close to their home and close to their commute, where they work, will serve to keep people healthier at a lower cost over time. The other thing about the health park we’re really proud of is our hours. Every service in the health park is open at minimum 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday and Sunday.
“Health care has been relatively inconvenient to get, and that has prevented people from staying healthy longer and at a lower cost. We believe that by making it easy to get these low-cost services, not just easy to go to an emergency room, but easy to actually see your doctor, that might be able to keep you out of the hospital. That’s where we’re hoping this is going to move the needle on improving the health of people long term.”
Photography by Julie Fletcher
As seen in January | February edition of i4 Business Magazine