Cityblock Health teams with MDwise to open health hubs in Indiana

Cityblock Health is expanding its primary care model into Indiana, marking the seventh state where the company now operates.

The startup, a healthcare provider focused on marginalized populations with complex needs, is teaming up with MDwise to serve 10,000 Hoosiers starting this month.

MDwise is the second-largest Medicaid managed care organization in Indiana serving 410,000 Hoosiers on Healthy Indiana Plan, Hoosier Healthwise and Medicare Advantage.

"We picked Indiana's MDwise because we have really shared values around the importance of improving access to quality healthcare, particularly for individuals and populations that have faced historically big challenges to accessing care," Dr. Toyin Ajayi, Cityblock's CEO and co-founder, said in an interview. "These individuals struggle with getting into the doctor's office and struggle with getting all of their needs met in a traditional clinical environment. We saw a shared opportunity to improve outcomes for the folks who really need it with a partner that's really aligned with our mission and values."

Cityblock Health delivers medical care, behavioral health, and social services to individuals from historically underserved and marginalized communities, in particular those with complex needs. The value-based healthcare provider partners with managed care organizations to help address gaps and opportunities to improve access to care as well as improve quality and outcomes for high-risk and rising-risk populations, particularly Medicaid, dually eligible and lower-income Medicare beneficiaries, Ajayi said.

"We're excited to put down roots in Indiana and serve that population and we're excited for our growth MDwise," she said.

The company launched in 2017 out of Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs and anchored in a first partnership with EmblemHealth. Cityblock combines primary care, behavioral health and chronic disease management services that address social determinants like transportation, housing and access to healthy food.

Along with the expansion into Indiana, Cityblock currently operates in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., North Carolina and Ohio.

The company's strategy is to meet the complex health and social needs of this population by taking care back to the neighborhood level. It does this by partnering with local community-based organizations to help its members get access to primary care, behavioral health care and social services.

Doctors and other clinical and non-clinical caregivers treat patients in their homes and community settings, via telehealth or at local Cityblock hubs.

“MDwise shares a commitment with Cityblock to help improve the health of Indiana communities and individual Hoosiers. We’re eager to work with Cityblock because of their track record of improving outcomes, especially for individuals from historically underserved and marginalized communities. We see this partnership opportunity as a big step forward in providing access to truly equitable healthcare for our most vulnerable members," said Jessica Cromer, president and CEO of MDwise.

The company is continuing to execute on its vision of serving 10 million members by 2030, which means scaling its operations, technology and care services. To help fund this growth, Cityblock raised $400 million in a late-stage funding round in September 2021 that boosted the company’s valuation to $5.7 billion.

Operating on the premise that health is local and personal, Cityblock provides services to community members with the highest levels of need, many of whom have experienced poor access to effective health services and who are at risk for disproportionately poor overall health outcomes, according to executives. A key component of Cityblock’s model is the multidisciplinary care team, which includes Community Health Partners hired from the communities in which they serve. Through this approach, caregivers can identify potential barriers to health, such as access to nutritious food and stable housing. 

Cityblock’s members in existing markets have experienced meaningful reductions in emergency department visits and inpatient admissions, and overall improvements in engagement.

The partnership with MDwise and Indiana’s local organizations, healthcare providers and behavioral health specialists will help to comprehensive care, improve health outcomes and drive access to truly equitable healthcare for those who need it the most, Ajayi said.

"A key component of our model, and really, frankly, what enabled us to be as successful as we are in improving outcomes across the board is that we enter into value-based relationships with payers, which means that we're able to make investments in community-based care and support above and beyond what many private organizations will be able to do in a typical fee-for-service environment," Ajayi said. "And that we get our economics aligned around the total cost of care and overall outcomes to the population and that requires us to partner with payers in order to ensure that we're able to realize the benefits from the investments that we've made up front in our model."

The partnership officially launched in September 2022 and is expected to result in approximately 100 new clinical and non-clinical jobs within the state during the first year alone.