Premera Blue Cross and Kinwell Medical Group Partner to Expand Access to Primary Care in Washington State

Kinwell Medical Group’s new clinics exclusively serve Premera members; part of the health plan’s long-term strategy to address the primary care crisis

Mountlake Terrace, Wash., Jan. 18, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Premera Blue Cross and Kinwell Medical Group today announced a collaboration to improve access to primary care in Washington. Kinwell Medical Group is opening primary care clinics across the state, which will exclusively serve people who have Premera Blue Cross, Premera Blue Cross Medicare, or LifeWise Health Plan of Washington plans as their primary insurance, as well as BlueCard holders.

This partnership is a key part of Premera’s strategy to address the growing crisis in primary care. By 2034, the United States is expected to face a shortage of up to 124,000 doctors, 48,000 of whom will be in primary care alone, according to a 2021 study by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

While the study focuses primarily on future doctor shortages, Americans are now feeling the shortfall. According to a study conducted for the AAMC, 35% of people surveyed said they had trouble finding a doctor in the past two or three years. That’s 10 points higher than when the question was asked in 2015.

“If we are to live up to our mission to make health care work better, we simply cannot afford to sit idly by and let this crisis develop,” said Lee McGrath, vice-president. Executive Chairman of Healthcare Services for Premera. “That’s why Premera is working today to improve our members’ care experience and invest in educational programs focused on pipeline growth for future primary care providers.”

Kinwell Medical Group’s first two primary care clinics opened in December 2021 in Yakima and Wenatchee. Designed as integrated care centers, Kinwell Medical Group clinics provide on-site access to a variety of services. This will greatly improve customer service and reduce wait times for Premera members. Additional clinics will open across Washington this year.

“At Kinwell, we believe that alongside medical expertise, developing a true connection always makes a difference, and we are thrilled to provide this level of care to the Yakima and Wenatchee communities,” said Dr. Mia Wise. , president of Kinwell Medical. Group. “We want to provide personalized and sincere care by removing barriers for patients seeking to improve their health and create a real relationship with their healthcare team. We look forward to expanding our offering to communities across Washington State in the years to come. »

The collaboration with Kinwell Medical Group expands the concept first undertaken in Spokane. In 2019, Premera partnered with Vera Whole Health to open Vivacity Care Centers, which are primary care centers exclusive to its members. Today, there are four Vivacity Care Centers in Spokane County that provide Premera members with better access to primary care, an improved approach to their healthcare, and a better customer experience.

Investing in the Primary Care Pipeline

Although Premera is focused on the immediate need for access to affordable, quality care for its members, increasing the capacity of rural family medicine residencies remains important in long-term efforts to improve health care. for more than one million people living in rural Washington.

A 2017 study by the National Rural Health Association found that people living in rural areas have less access to primary and preventive care and are more likely to suffer from chronic disease, disability and premature death.

“If we don’t address the potential shortage of primary care providers now, rural communities will suffer the worst in the future,” McGrath said. “This will compound an already growing health equity problem. We need to invest in and develop educational programs that focus on both primary care and rural health care.

Since 2018, Premera has committed more than $58 million to improve access to care in rural areas. The company concentrates its investments in the following areas: recruitment and training of doctors, nurses and caregivers; clinical integration of behavioral health; programs to increase the capacity of mental health crisis centers in rural areas; and grants for small equipment to rural providers.

This included a recent $5.5 million grant to support Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU) rural family medicine educational pathway and training, which was developed in collaboration with MultiCare Health System, a leading organization non-profit health care. Premera also provided a $4.7 million grant to the University of Washington to establish the Rural Nursing Health Initiative to place current students in rural practices in Washington State.

Learn more about Premera investing in rural communities.

About Premera Blue Cross
Premera Blue Cross is a leading health plan in the Pacific Northwest, providing comprehensive health benefits and tailored services to more than 2.5 million people, from individuals to Fortune 100 companies. For more d information, visit www.premera.com.

About Kinwell Medical Group
Launched in 2021, Kinwell Medical Group is an exclusive physician-owned network provider serving people who have Premera Blue Cross, Premera Blue Cross Medicare, or LifeWise Health Plan of Washington as their primary insurance, as well as BlueCard holders. Kinwell is changing the conversation about healthcare to include wellness and prevention. At Kinwell Clinics, care is provided by Kinwell Medical Group clinicians. They are supported by an independent company, Kinwell Physician Network, which provides administrative and commercial services allowing Kinwell Medical Group to focus on what it does best: caring for patients. For more information, visit www.kinwellhealth.com.

About Antoine L. Cassell

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