Silver Health CARE and its five facilities have been purchased by a Florida-based national management company, in a deal that both parties said would improve rural health care delivery in the region — and even beyond.
Dr. James Skee, one of the owners of Silver Health CARE, and Rise Health CEO Keith Pinter visited with the Daily Press in a virtual interview Thursday to discuss the purchase, which was announced to Silver Health employees on Monday. They did not disclose the purchase price.
Skee said that although the announcement came this week, the sale has been in the works for some time. He said staff of Silver Health was kept informed of the progress.
“I explained very carefully over the last few months the logic and the reasons. We’ve had meetings with a group from Rise, and they’ve gotten to know each other, and I think everybody sees that this is the way to go,” he said. “Medicine keeps getting more and more complex, the regulations get more complex and onerous. There’s just an awful lot to keep up with to make all the parts work, and bringing in all the outside resources that’s going to help us accomplish our goals is going to be something I look forward to.”
Silver Health CARE operates a clinic with urgent care at 1600 E. 32nd St. and a family clinic at 1380 U.S. 180 E., as well as a clinic with urgent care in Deming, a clinic in Bayard and at Fort Bayard Medical Center in Santa Clara.
Skee joined Silver Health in 1981 and co-owned the clinic with Dr. Laura Davenport-Reed.
Skee will remain with Silver Health as its chief medical officer and continue to see patients, something he said he might not have done without the sale to Rise.
“If I had to keep doing all this administrative stuff I’ve been doing for the last two-and-a-half decades, I would definitely be looking at stepping down fairly quickly,” he said. “But this sort of sustained me, and I made a commitment to my staff to be here for at least another three years and still be working with medical students and teaching. Teaching and seeing patients is what I like the best.”
No jobs will be cut, and Pinter said the partnership will allow even more medical staff to join the practice — in particular specialists who will be available virtually. Patients should be able to start seeing changes within the first few months of 2023, he said.
“We are bringing a whole cadre of sub-specialists or specialists that enable, right away, for that patient to be seeing a specialist within 48 hours of talking with their primary care [physician],” Pinter said.
Patients could visit with a neurosurgeon or even work with a physical therapist virtually while at home, he said.
“Hopefully, what people will see is improved care, improved access to care, and also what practitioners will see is better job satisfaction,” Pinter said.
The company will provide administrative support as well as technology for physicians to have relevant information for the patient, such as the latest care guidelines, he said.
The technology will also include the use of artificial intelligence used with medical equipment, Skee said.
“One thing that Rise is doing that I’m particularly excited about is implementing artificial intelligence within the machine,” he said.
Artificial intelligence will allow the equipment to make adjustments for health conditions the patient might have, in addition to what is being tested for or for what the physician wants to do in a specific situation, he said.
“Basically, [we] have the machine do some of the work for us, so that we’re doing less clicks in the exam room and more attention on the patient,” Skee said.
Pinter said Rise Health has targeted New Mexico for expansion in particular because of Skee’s work in rural health. He said the company plans to make Silver Health its flagship facility in the state.
That will largely be accomplished through value-based health care, Pinter said. Skee said medical practice is moving toward that system becoming the norm.
Traditionally, medical providers have been paid for procedures such as an office visit or operation, but value-based medicine is structured around keeping patients healthy, Skee said.
“Instead, what you do is you take care of a bunch of patients, and you’re not paid by the number of things you do — rather, you’re paid by keeping them healthy, keeping them out of the hospital. You’re paid for taking care of a panel of patients, rather than doing a bunch of stuff to them, and that’s a very big paradigm shift,” he said. “We’re sort of at the forefront of this, but in another five years, everybody is going to be doing this.”
“When you take an extraordinary practice as Dr. Skee has built, and you provide a set of tools, technologies and resources that quite honestly they haven’t been able to afford, and you change the way care is being delivered into this value-based environment, this is a very exciting partnership for the future of health care, especially in rural markets,” Pinter said.
“Hopefully, we’ll generate a model which would be replicated throughout the country,” Skee said. “This is relatively new stuff we’re doing.”