Park Nicollet’s New Service Aims To Curb Health Care Costs

SmartCare could be a new model for high-deductible patients.

In the Obamacare era, more and more patients are signing up for high-deductible health insurance meaning many have to pay for more of their out-of-pocket for medical expenses. Park Nicollet is addressing this growing market by launching a program called SmartCare for patients ages 18 to 60. The program is designed to provide coordinated, team-based care available in-person, over the phone, video or online. 

Like all larger health care providers, Park Nicollet has long had care representatives who can help to triage patients before seeing a doctor or nurse practitioner. Under SmartCare, the patient talks with a nurse clinician, who operates as a kind of care concierge. Once he or she learns about the patient’s condition, the nurse clinician confers with the SmartCare team–which includes doctors, physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners and registered nurses–to determine the level of care that a patient needs. For instance, a patient with a sinus infection could receive care from a RN instead of a doctor, thus potentially saving that patient time and money. In addition, the SmartCare team can provide the patient the projected cost of an office visit.

Visits don’t have to be in person. The SmartCare system allows patients to choose from face-to-face care, but also offers scheduled phone or video visits or online “MyChart” visits. As part of the SmartCare offering, Park Nicollet has expanded its evening and weekend hours and added more walk-in care options.

SmartCare is being launched as a pilot project at Park Nicollet’s St. Louis Park Clinic campus. Depending on how well it works there, SmartCare could be expanded to other HealthPartners or Park Nicollet locations.