Humana opens 250th primary care center as it continues to focus on growth

Humana's primary care arm opened its 250th clinic in Dallas on Tuesday, marking another milestone in the insurer's growth in the provider space.

The Medicare Advantage giant has established a multiyear effort to continue scaling CenterWell and expects to open between 30 and 50 centers per year through 2025. In addition to the senior-focused primary care clinics, CenterWell also houses Humana's home health business, another key strategic focus, and is sister to the Conviva Care Center brand.

Collectively, Humana's Primary Care Organization cares for 266,000 seniors across its markets.

The ongoing expansion cements CenterWell as one of the country's fastest-growing providers of value-based, senior-focused care. It operates clinics in 12 states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

Critical to CenterWell's DNA is its focus on communities that lack access to primary care, said Sanjay Shetty, M.D., president of Humana’s CenterWell healthcare services segment, in an exclusive interview with Fierce Healthcare. Shetty joined the company to helm CenterWell in March.

CenterWell's integrated model enables the provider to "create a community around our patients," Shetty said. He said there are already patients signed up for visits at the new Dallas locations.

"The expansion of each one of our clinics has been met with similar levels of excitement," Shetty said.

He said that the model is designed to account for the fact that many seniors have at least one chronic condition, and, at CenterWell clinics, they're afforded longer visits with their physician and a care team to wrap services around them as needed.

"Behind every doctor," he said, is a pharmacist, social worker, nurse, behavioral health counselor and others who are "entirely focused on keeping patients healthy and well."

Shetty said that while Humana is certainly focused on continuing to grow geographically, it's also investing in building out the services CenterWell can provide. For example, because its care model is integrated with primary care, behavioral health, home health and pharmacy services, CenterWell can assist patients in navigating the healthcare system and its complexities.

Building on that foundation will enable the company to find new ways to improve patient outcomes as well as their experiences, he said.

"Our vision for CenterWell is that we are going to bring all of our services to bear to help make our patients live a healthier life," Shetty said.

In addition, CenterWell is central to Humana's broader goals around expanding value-based care, but the provider organization is payer agnostic and accepts coverage from myriad other insurers across the country. The model works in this paradigm because it's built on the foundation of primary care but extends beyond the doctor's office and into the patient's home, he said.

For instance, ensuring patients can access key services in the home can avert pricey, and unneeded, visits to the emergency department or hospital inpatient ward, he said.

Shetty added that the CenterWell team is also putting a focus on addressing patients' social needs, as assisting with these social factors is crucial in managing patients' health in a holistic way. Tackling the social determinants of health is a focus across Humana broadly, he said.

"We believe that we at CenterWell are positioned to transform healthcare," he said.