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Provo’s Revere Health promotes preventative medical care to lower costs

By Christi Babbitt - Special to the Daily Herald | Apr 1, 2024

Regular physicals and preventative care exams with a primary physical can lead to early detection of medical problems, reducing health care costs in the long run.

As health care costs continue to rise nationwide, a local health care leader is encouraging Utah residents to invest in preventative care, a strategy it says will save patients money and lead to better health outcomes.

“We do a great job with trauma care. If you have a trauma, you want to be in America. But we don’t do a good job with length of life,” said Scott Barlow, chief executive officer of Revere Health, a Provo-based company that operates Utah’s largest network of physician-owned multispecialty clinics.

Data shows people living in European Union nations have a longer life expectancy than those in the United States, despite the U.S. spending a great deal more on health care. In fact, in 2020, the U.S. spent nearly 17% of its GDP on health care, more than any other developed country in the world.

This high expenditure in the U.S. does not translate into better health outcomes. In areas such as life expectancy, infant mortality and unmanaged diabetes, the U.S. performs worse than other developed nations.

“What these countries all do is they embrace healthy living all throughout their life,” Barlow said.

He encouraged local residents to follow the example of these nations by forming close relationships with their medical providers and obtaining health screenings and physicals regularly throughout their lives.

This approach leads to early detection of health problems, which reduces the amount of care needed to address acute health problems. This kind of “rescue care” carries with it a much higher cost.

In the United States, people get physicals when they’re babies or when they go to school, but they tend to then ignore their health until they get older, Barlow said. Sometimes, when advised to get a physical, patients are suspicious that doctors are simply trying to get them to come in as a way to make money. In reality, he said, the opposite is true — patients will save money in the long run through getting regular checkups.

These visits also carry the benefit of building a close relationship between the patient and the physician, which allows the physician to build a complete health history of the patient.

“If you build a care relationship with a care team, they can help you understand what you need and what your options are,” Barlow said.

Costs are much higher when patients bounce from one doctor to another and the caregiver is required to rebuild the health picture of a patient through testing or other means. If a health issue goes unrecognized until it becomes acute and treatment must be done in an emergency room, the cost to the patient is, again, significantly higher.

The issue of health care expenditures goes beyond the patient’s well-being; it’s a major issue in the local business community. The No. 1 concern of employers in Utah is health care, Barlow said.

By taking a proactive approach to health care, employers and employees will benefit. Employer health care premiums are based on cost, meaning premium costs go down as health care costs are reduced. Barlow said implementing these ideas of proactive care within Revere’s own workforce of 2,600 employees has lowered its premiums and improved its employees’ health trajectory. “It’s an overall win-win,” he said.

Revere Health is working to reduce health care costs through its participation in the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Accountable Care Organization program. Through this program, its providers are incentivized to emphasize preventative care and patient education as well as build relationships with patients that lead to a partnership in approaching health care decisions.

According to Revere, it has saved its Medicare patients more than $80 million during the past eight years through this program.

Utah lags behind other states when it comes to residents obtaining screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies, Barlow said. However, Utah also has one of the lowest per capita health care expenditures in the country, and through adjusting their approach to health care, local residents can make a big difference for themselves and their community.

What will their doctors’ reaction be when patients schedule a physical? “They’re going to give you high fives when you walk in the door. It really does make it a lot easier for everyone,” Barlow said.


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