Apricus Health Seeks to Expand Convenient, Quality Medical Services throughout Arizona

Apricus Health Seeks to Expand Convenient, Quality Medical Services throughout Arizona

Virgo Investment Group (“Virgo”) today announced an investment in Apricus Health, an innovative healthcare company created by a group of prominent Arizona physicians. This partnership aligns with Virgo’s focus on strategically expanding its portfolio within the health and wellness sectors.

Apricus Health was founded with the goal of transitioning healthcare practices to a value-based care model. The Apricus Health Network of primary care and specialty providers has been growing rapidly and now includes over 590 practitioners and 63 provider groups in 220 locations across Maricopa, Pinal, Coconino, and Yavapai, Arizona counties. Comprehensive services include in-office visits, telehealth, personal care navigators, remote patient monitoring and free home delivery of medications. Patients have access to quality healthcare 24/7, and the ability to choose when and how they receive care.

“We believe the time has come for the healthcare industry to accelerate its adoption of the next wave of innovation such as telehealth, care navigation and connected care technology in a value-based setting to improve healthcare access and the patient experience,” said Pooja Goel, managing director overseeing the healthcare portfolio at Virgo Investment Group. “Apricus Health integrates innovative technology alongside high-touch service to improve healthcare outcomes and we expect to see the company continue to grow across Arizona and beyond.”

Apricus Health has a special focus on Senior Health Management and has developed a unique care model where each senior is assigned a dedicated team which includes a care navigator to help them traverse the complexity of healthcare and address their social determinants of health. Patients with chronic conditions are given remote monitoring devices and enrolled in a proactive chronic care management program, leading to improved outcomes and lower hospitalizations and healthcare spending.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) recently awarded Apricus Health approval to operate a Direct Contracting Entity (DCE), a cutting-edge value-based care model that adds Benefit Enhancements and Benefit Engagement incentives for Medicare patients. Implementation is underway now and full operations start April 1, 2021. Apricus Health plans to extend its participation in DCE programs in other states in 2022.

“The demand for convenient care either at home or near home that’s focused on managing chronic conditions and keeping patients healthy is growing across the country,” said Dr. Kishlay Anand, president and founder of Apricus Health. “Our partnership with Virgo provides us with the opportunity to further expand this care model to additional communities in Arizona and across the U.S.”

Founded in 2009, Virgo is a private investment firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area that has an established track record of building and transforming businesses. Virgo seeks to identify and grow unique business models into differentiated and profitable industry leading companies. Virgo focuses on two distinct strategies – creating, building and scaling asset-based/credit businesses, and executing transformative growth equity investments in Founder-led or Family-owned companies. The Firm has raised over $1.8 billion and completed 43 investments to date.

Created by Arizona physicians, Apricus Health is an innovative healthcare company providing members a direct one-on-one relationship with healthcare providers and care navigators who are accessible from any location to diagnose and treat a wide range of medical conditions. Through robust technology, 24/7 care management and real time analytics, Apricus Health is changing the care delivery model, helping physicians who work in value-based care environments improve care outcomes while reducing health costs.

My View: Arizona needs to prioritize online health care transformation

My View: Arizona needs to prioritize online health care transformation

By Dr. Kishlay Anand – Contributing writer

Kishlay Anand
Dr. Kislay Anand is president and co-founder of Apricus Health in Scottsdale

After the pandemic exploded last March, health care technology solutions that were previously regarded as ancillary services catapulted to the forefront of care. As a practicing cardiologist and a part of Arizona’s Covid-19 Response Team, I was more than pleased that Gov. Doug Ducey had previously signed a new law on April 18, 2019 expanding insurance coverage for telehealth services, including remote patient monitoring such as oxygen levels and blood pressure. The law becomes effective Jan. 1, 2021, ensuring that commercial health plans will cover medical services delivered in-person or via telehealth.

According to the National Law Review, Arizona’s prior telehealth coverage law contained a number of restrictions that confused practitioners and ultimately prevented patients from enjoying meaningful insurance coverage of services delivered via telehealth. Both our legislators and our health care community now have an enormous opportunity to embrace the transformation that was accelerated by the unfortunate circumstances of the pandemic and continue to support the use of modern web-based technologies in health care.

Thankfully, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) just took a major step last month in the promotion of remote patient monitoring. On Dec. 1, CMS finalized its remote patient monitoring regulations for 2021, including guidelines on medical devices for remote monitoring, a revised definition of direct supervision during Covid-19 and clarification on its payment policies. Not only will this help to expand remote patient monitoring access across Medicare Advantage plans, it will also expand access to other virtual services.

Another element of proactive care that shouldn’t be overlooked is the use of care navigators. Care navigators provide patients a direct point-of-contact for appointment and lab work scheduling, helping with drug delivery or any other health-related need. Navigators should be available 24/7 to address any patient concerns by answering their questions and connecting them with their physicians when relevant.

Arizona’s health care plan providers and our legislators should not only keep up-to-date with the latest modern health technologies, but they also need to prioritize usability and simplicity above all else. Patients should always come first, and their needs should be reflected throughout all aspects of their health care coverage benefits. As health care technology continues to evolve, plan providers need to stay current on improvements in all areas of quality care accessibility, including telehealth options, care navigators and easy-to-use remote patient monitoring tools.

When patients feel accounted for and supported when they need it most, providers can further improve their level of care. Patient trust is paramount during the pandemic, and it starts with a thoughtful approach to connected health services.

Apricus Healthcare Model Increases Access to Physicians, Treatment

Apricus Healthcare Model Increases Access to Physicians, Treatment

Andrew Martin
Dr. Andrew Martin

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered how medical services are delivered, both for urgent and routine needs. With social distancing awareness and limits on access to facilities and walk-in traffic, face-to-face visits with doctors have become less common; however, telehealth solutions have minimized the risk of spreading the virus by giving patients access to doctors online through the use of smartphones, tablets and computers.

In the new year, these rapid medical innovations may now become solidly embedded in healthcare models.

A group of about 30 Arizona physicians launched the Apricus Health Network in September. With a motto of “Care Your Way,” the Apricus model is designed to make health care easier and more affordable for Arizonans by providing flexible and convenient proactive healthcare solutions, “when you need it, delivered how you want it,” according to the website.

Apricus, the Latin word for sunshine, was chosen as the name for the company because the founding physicians believe that a bright and sunny outlook can go a long way in delivering quality care to communities.

Beginning with headquarters in Scottsdale, the Apricus Health Network has currently expanded to 206 locations across Coconino, Yavapai, Maricopa and Pinal counties. It now encompasses 59 provider groups and more than 450 practitioners.

Flagstaff Family Care Clinic joined the Apricus Health Network on Dec. 1. The business has two locations in Flagstaff, on South Yale and North Fourth streets, and a third in Sedona, on Northview Road, which was added to Flagstaff Family Care two years ago.

“The decision to join the Apricus Health Network was an easy one,” said Flagstaff Family Care Clinic founder Dr. Andrew Martin, M.D. “I am really excited about this opportunity for what Apricus is bringing to the table for our patients in Northern Arizona. Providing high quality, low-cost primary care has become more difficult. We have been providing chronic care management to our higher risk patients. With Apricus Health Network, our program will be so much better. We will have patient monitoring devices and patient care navigators. Our telehealth platform will be much better. Together, as a part of Apricus, we will do even better managing chronic conditions and improving health outcomes.”

Physicians say partnering with Apricus will shift the focus from episodic care to a continuous care relationship, which “is especially [beneficial] in rural markets where accessibility to health care can be a challenge,” said Martin.

Cardiologist and electrophysiologist Dr. Kishlay Anand, M.D., is the CEO of Apricus Health and co-founded the network in order “to move away from a traditional care delivery model to one that improves access to quality care using technology as a means to extend and improve the care we can provide,” he explained.

Anand, who is originally from New Delhi, India, has practiced in the Phoenix area for nine years.

Dr. Swaraj Singh, who serves as chief medical information officer for Apricus, helped spearhead the creation of the new health network.

“We wanted to help independent providers transition to payment models based on outcomes and satisfaction, to transition from fee-for-service to value-based service,” Anand explained. “We started in the Valley, but we saw that Northern Arizona had a lot of opportunities for growth. It’s an area where we felt we could bring a lot of value. We have a lot of services we felt would be appropriate for Northern Arizona.”

To begin an Apricus expansion in Flagstaff seemed a natural choice to Anand, who said he has known Dr. Andrew Martin for a few years and has known of the Flagstaff Family Care practice for some time.

Reaching out into the northern part of the state, including into Yavapai County, has been facilitated through the partnership with Flagstaff Family Care, whose Sedona office is open full-time, with a new doctor Erba Carskadden, D.O., starting this month.

Dr. Mary Porvaznik is the primary provider in Sedona. She divides her time between the Sedona and Flagstaff offices. Michele Peters, FNP, works full-time in the Sedona office as well.

An integrated behavioral health service is also provided at FFC, offering counseling to promote well-being with Janine Cwiklinski, M.A., LPC NCC.

Anand says a major Apricus Health Network goal for 2021 includes continuing the creation of an expanded presence in Prescott and Prescott Valley. The new year will also see more mini-clinics of Apricus teams being set up inside pre-existing clinics in Northern Arizona.

“Next year is going to a big growth year for us,” said Anand in December. “Overall, our goal is to be able to provide health care in all of Arizona.”

Vital to the statewide Apricus vision are around-the-clock health support systems such as telehealth, telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). Anand has championed the importance of technology and the need for 24/7 access to care in the state for more than four years.

“If a patient needs immediate medical help, options are limited under traditional scenarios,” he said. “This inspired our idea to shift to an approach that includes in-person care that is supplemented by telehealth and connected care technologies. In doing so, we’re able to treat patients in minutes, rather than days or weeks.”

The technology used is said to be user-friendly and eliminates software downloads for patients. Doctors say the Apricus healthcare model uses real-time analytics that allow patients access to health records anytime, anywhere, using any device, which gives the entire care team a unified view of a patient’s treatment plan and aids in making data-driven decisions.

Apricus also offers patients free home delivery of medications, many of which are offered at substantial discounts.

Another feature of the Apricus model is the concept of personal care navigators. “All Apricus Health members are assigned their own personal care navigator who can help them understand today’s complex healthcare system, assist them in receiving the right care and get them in touch with the medical professionals who can answer their questions. From there, it’s as simple as scheduling an appointment, which the care navigators can support with primary care or specialist physicians who are part of the network.”

By growing the provider network, the Apricus system is positioned to keep up with population growth and meet increasing healthcare needs in the future. FBN

By Betsey Bruner, FBN