Long before CareMax Medical Centers opened its first set of doors in 2011 in Miami, Chief Executive Officer Carlos de Solo had a vision. His vision was born from seeing numerous older family members struggling with a healthcare system that provided more problems than purpose; more heartache than help.
“I saw a broken healthcare system,” said de Solo reflecting on those years in the early 2000s. “My family members, especially those over the age of 65 or 70, were in and out of the hospital for various ailments. Each admission became more complicated and confusing; each of the many prescriptions they were taking had its own set of risks versus rewards to consider. We were lucky that my siblings and I could help our family members through the process, but I kept thinking about others in our community who did not have that support. I just knew we had to do something.”
That he did.
What de Solo did was create CareMax, a healthcare organization that combines all elderly South Floridians’ needs – medical, behavioral, and social – under one roof. The same resources are allocated toward medical care as for education, events and games to keep members active, a comprehensive program CareMax calls “whole person health.”
“At CareMax, we focus on the intersection of medicine, technology, happiness and community,” stressed de Solo. “Isolated, lonely seniors have more health conditions than their active counterparts,” he continued, referencing a study by the National Institute on Aging which linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimer’s disease, and even death.
As CareMax began to grow, its unique model was noticed by Ben Quirk, the founder of a healthcare technology company. “I attended one CareMax member event, and I was sold. This is the correct model for patient care across the country. For seniors to have a one-stop shop for all their healthcare needs is in stark contrast to the disjointed healthcare system where a patient has to navigate the labyrinth of referrals and specialists. I look forward to the day, 30 years from now, that I can be a CareMax member myself.”
Using the CareMax centers as a real-world laboratory, Quirk and his team of software developer and healthcare experts set out to create technology to help physicians keep track of their members throughout the healthcare continuum. “Carlos de Solo and I teamed up to form a new tech company, CareOptimize, which has an artificial intelligence and best practice rules engine that mines through millions of data points to ensure members receive the right care at the right time,” Quirk explained. “CareMax doctors no longer need to sift through hundreds of pages of medical charts. The answers are right at their fingertips.”
When the COVID pandemic hit, CareOptimize became even more critical in treating patients, this time at home. Members check in with the provider through the touch of a button, and home medical devices, such as scales and blood oxygen readers, monitor members’ health between visits. If an out of range value is seen, a care team member is notified and intervenes by calling or even sending an ambulance to a member’s home. “Our whole goal is to keep ahead of emergencies through proactive preventative care,” said Quirk. “If a patient does go to the hospital, we are automatically notified within 15 minutes and can begin interfacing directly with the hospital team to share information and plan the members’ stabilization and subsequent return to the community.”
All CareMax senior members regularly receive a wide variety of services, including:
The model has worked. In less than 10 years, de Solo, Quirk, and their teams have shaped CareMax into a unique network of 13 value-based, multi-specialty health centers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. CareMax has been so successful that plans for 2021 now include new centers in Orlando and, for the first time outside Florida, in Atlanta and New Orleans/Baton Rouge. The CareOptimize platform is also being shared with community partners in 27 states, giving other physicians the tools to provide value-based, not volume-based, care.
“Simply put, we have fostered a culture of health and wellness care throughout the communities we serve,” added de Solo. “Our member satisfaction levels are extremely high while we keep their medical costs extremely low.”
Elia Padron, 73, a member from CareMax Miami, agreed.
“Unfortunately, I contracted the COVID infection a few months ago,” Padron explained. “Through all these very trying times, CareMax was by my side. I received daily calls from my doctor, CareMax nurses, and the center administrator. This was all very helpful, as are the daily lunches I receive and their wonderful transportation services. They make me feel like family.”
Esperanza La Torre, 74, also a CareMax Miami member, concurred with Padron.
“My experience with CareMax has been amazing,” she said. “We have all the care that we need from our doctor and the entire staff. Being part of CareMax is the best experience of my life.”
Founded in 2011, CareMax Medical Centers is a network of value-based clinics in South Florida primarily serving Medicare beneficiaries through high-touch enhanced services. Each of the 13 CareMax centers offers comprehensive care to its members by combining primary care, specialists, dental care, pain management, social services, health education, diagnostics, home health and pharmacy under one roof with transportation to get members to their appointments. CareMax has found proactively fulfilling members’ medical, mental and social needs — what CareMax calls “whole person health” — leads to improved patient health and lower costs to the healthcare system. Five-Star quality CareMax centers use a combination of best practices, technology and social determinants to achieve better healthcare outcomes for senior members in the community. The results: 130% year-over-year growth, the opening of three new medical centers in the next six months, and high-quality scores as evidenced by three contracted health plans receiving a 5-Star quality rating as awarded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Founded in 2015, CareOptimize provides technology and practice transformation services to ease the switch to value-based care. After gathering data from across the healthcare continuum, CareOptimize’s artificial intelligence and best practice rules engine identifies care opportunities. These opportunities are shown at point of care in any Electronic Health Record system as well as a web portal from care managers between visits. Modules include Coding for identifying undocumented diseases, Quality for measuring progress against national quality benchmarks, Engagement for tracking and care managing patients between visits, Referrals for helping providers find other specialists who practice value-based care, and Operations which tracks key performance indicators. Launching in 2021 is a patient facing application for members to become engaged in their own care.