How Virtua Health System reaches high-need patients

Patient-centered care
Virtua Health System is taking a new approach to high-cost, high-need patients.

Providers in communities with large numbers of high-need patients might need to reexamine where they’re meeting their patients, and one New Jersey health system is tackling that challenge by investing in primary care and outpatient services.

High-need, high-cost patients require significant resources, as they make up just 5% of the population but account for about 50% of healthcare costs. The first step for providers looking to better target those patients is to assess the needs in the communities they serve.

Related: Practices with many high-needs patients deliver better care

Virtua Health System, a nonprofit based in southern New Jersey, did just that when it conducted a community health needs assessment, CEO Rich Miller said in a video interview with Hospitals & Health Networks. Residents in the three counties Virtua serves, which includes the city of Camden, identified behavioral health as a top concern.

Armed with that knowledge, the system is developing one of its campuses into a behavioral health-centered location, where it will treat patients in need of mental healthcare or who are drug or alcohol abusers. It is also investing in its primary care facility in urban Camden to reach more residents who need care across the continuum.

Related: Patient transport: Using Lyft, Uber reduces wait times, boosts care access, saves money

It's also looking into services to make it easier for patients to get care. Lyft pilots in New York and California have shown promise, FierceHealthcare has reported, reducing ride costs and wait times.