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Spectrum learns lessons from STRIVE closure

Whole-body preventive approach practice lasted just two years in downtown Grand Rapids.

August 30, 2019
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Spectrum Health
Spectrum’s goal was to have 2,500 member patients at the STRIVE practice, but it had about 1,300 at closure. Courtesy STRIVE

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) Though Spectrum Health closed its membership-based practice after only two years, the health system’s leaders are making the most of what they learned. 

Spectrum Health closed its STRIVE clinic, at 161 Ottawa Ave. NW, on Aug. 31.

The practice opened in 2017 as a whole-body preventive approach to long-term wellness that offered more personalized care than traditional primary care, said Dr. Alejandro Quiroga, VP of medical affairs for Spectrum Health.

For a $159 annual fee not covered by insurance, member patients received a personalized wellness plan, discounted services at local wellness clubs and organizations, full access to primary care physicians, genome testing to help predict future issues and more.

Quiroga said STRIVE was a model sort of in between Spectrum’s existing concierge model — a pricier version that only works for a small segment of the population, he said — and traditional primary care.

At STRIVE, he said patients had more one-on-one contact with the doctors, who greeted patients, took their vitals and more.

“All those things are very expensive but ideal. That's how we would like to deliver care,” he said. “Some of those lessons we're learning, and we just want to continue to build on that.”

The goal was to have 2,500 member patients at the practice, but it had about 1,300 at closure, including Quiroga, he said. They’re being transferred to other primary care providers within the health system. Spectrum has 75 primary care sites and 500 primary care providers.

“I'm one of the patients that is being relocated. That's how much I believe in that model,” Quiroga said.

He said questioning the cause of the closure is reasonable, and he does not have a conclusive answer as to why the service didn’t work out. 

“There's maybe not as much of an appetite as we thought there was in the community,” Quiroga said.

However, he called the endeavor a success overall.

“There were good lessons that we learned in this journey,” Quiroga said.

He said there are no plans to create another similarly modeled standalone clinic in the future, but after finishing post-analysis to learn how to move forward, Spectrum plans to integrate the personalized wellness-focused care approach into all of its primary care practices.

“It really decreases the risk for this type of endeavor and to make them more scalable,” Quiroga said.

He said he believes this is possible because the endeavor taught Spectrum that it has providers who are passionate about this type of service.

“We learned more about our own capabilities,” he said.

Building upon such Spectrum programs as culinary medicine and weight clinics, he said the next step is to figure out how to scale wellness services to make them more accessible.

“I think it's very important to have a health system in Grand Rapids that is consistently trying to improve the experience for patients and try new models,” he said. “We will continue to have this philosophy, whether we do it in a different way or different space or however that looks.”

STRIVE had two providers and five other staff members. They are being transferred to other Spectrum practices, except for one doctor, who plans to launch a private practice, Quiroga said.

The health insurer Priority Health, which is part of Spectrum Health, will take over the 4,500-square-foot space.

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