BridgeHealth is a rapidly growing health services company, founded over 10 years ago with the goal of making the highest quality surgical solutions accessible for all Americans. Their mission was to simultaneously reduce costs while improving both quality and outcomes of surgery, and at the same time providing a superior patient experience at every stage of the surgery process. They set the bar high.
In the years since, BridgeHealth has more than cleared that bar – and has grown by leaps and bounds as a result.
“We provide the best possible service value – high quality at low cost with an exceptional customer experience,” says Mark Stadler, President and CEO. “That’s why we’ve been so successful.”
Prior to joining BridgeHealth, Mark had spent the majority of his 40 year career designing the benefit programs of large self-funded employers. In that time, it became obvious to him that a lack of transparency was one of the industry’s biggest problems. “It’s usually not clear,” he says, “who is winning and who is losing,” and that leads to mistrust and dissatisfaction.
BridgeHealth, however, does things differently.
“What I like about BridgeHealth is our model is one in which everyone wins,” Mark says. “Sponsors, members, providers – they all see the pathway to quality, and they all win.”
Providers, for example, benefit from BridgeHealth bringing cases to them from beyond their traditional service areas, cases to which they wouldn’t otherwise have access. That volume helps them build their practices. And because BridgeHealth only partners with a limited number of exceptionally high quality providers in each market – only those who are independently ranked as best, based on factors such as complication rates, surgical outcomes, and more – providers also benefit from quality recognition, extending their brands, and improving their competitive position.
Patients benefit from access to the best surgical care available, regardless of proximity or cost. From the moment they receive a recommendation for surgery, a “care coordinator” is assigned to help them understand their options, identify and schedule the right surgeon and the right setting, and provide logistical support – everything from scheduling second opinions to gathering medical history and even booking travel if necessary. This type of VIP concierge treatment typically associated only with high cost care, is made accessible to more individuals across the US.
Employers and other benefits plan sponsors win big when their members have better healthcare experiences and return to normal function faster as the result of high quality surgery – all the while improving their bottom line by accessing steep surgical discounts negotiated by BridgeHealth with their provider partners.
BridgeHealth achieves significant savings over average PPO discounts due to pre-negotiated bundled case rates, as well as by “eliminating a lot of the waste,” Mark says – usually by providing a higher quality of care.
When it comes to surgical solutions, much of the cost usually comes from revisions, from surgeries that need to be redone, or from resulting infections. With BridgeHealth’s top-quality providers, those revision and infection rates are lower and surgery can even sometimes be avoided. That means members get back to work more quickly, and at a lower cost.
Over the years, BridgeHealth has grown significantly and steadily on the back of their “everyone wins” model. They now have members in all 50 states, providers in 31 states and counting, over 700 surgeons in their program, and they have performed in excess of 12,000 surgeries.
“We’ve really developed an expertise in what we’re doing,” Mark says. “And we do it all over. We firmly believe that your zip code should not be a limitation to your ability to access high quality care.”
When it comes to sponsors, BridgeHealth now works with self-insured companies, Taft-Hartley and union plans, government and education groups, associations, TPAs and consultants, and health captives. As Mark reiterates, they offer these groups the best of both of worlds – significant cost savings for them, and top quality care and experiences for their members.
The BridgeHealth way
In 2018, BridgeHealth was named among the fastest-growing private U.S. companies by Inc. Magazine for the fourth year in a row. From 2014 through 2017, they were noted for having a three-year sales growth of 109 percent.
In a statement announcing the win, Mark said that BridgeHealth was happy to receive the Inc. 5000 recognition as “continued validation for the need for our solution, both for high-quality providers and plan sponsors.”
“We are proud to be a leader in the move to value-based care,” he said. “We offer health plan sponsors and their members access to the highest quality care and service at significant savings, simultaneously providing distribution and support for the nation’s best surgical centers. Our program is a sensible solution in righting much of what’s wrong with healthcare today.”
Mark went on to credit BridgeHealth’s growth to the appeal of their offering and to the necessity of surgeries when it comes to an aging workforce.
“Musculoskeletal health issues are the single largest clinical cost category, accounting for about 16 percent of an employer’s total annual healthcare spend; that’s more than cancer and Type 2 diabetes combined,” Mark explains. “Fifty percent of all musculoskeletal costs are related to surgery and, not coincidentally, drive 60 percent of BridgeHealth’s surgical volume.”
“So employers are looking at musculoskeletal health right now as a real driver of cost, as an area they want to focus on and make sure they are getting the highest quality outcomes in,” he adds. “So those employers are coming to us because we provide those outcomes.”
Mark also credited BridgeHealth’s extraordinary growth to the dedication of the company’s team. He praised the team for their focus on delivering an extremely high quality of service, far above what is typical in the healthcare industry.
“In a typical surgery situation, you have to do everything on your own,” he says. “You have to find the surgery center, the surgeon, you have to get there and back, you have to figure it out all by yourself.”
“With a BridgeHealth solution, we work with the member,” he continues. “We gather their medical records and we make sure the surgery center has it. If there’s travel involved to get to a surgery center – which oftentimes there is to maintain our high quality standards – we book that travel for both the member and a companion that travels with them.”
“Then we help them with all of their scheduling,” he says. “We schedule meals, we schedule for all the different needs they have during their recovery period, and then we get them back home and we get them plugged in to rehabilitation, if that’s necessary.”
Then there are the bills. After going through the standard surgery process, patients typically receive many separate bills – they are often paying surgeon charges, assistant surgeon charges, anesthesia charges, a facility cost for inpatient imaging, inpatient physical therapy, inpatient pharmacy, and more.
“In a BridgeHealth surgery, members are not getting bills from the multitude of physicians that have interacted with them during that surgery process,” Mark explains. “All of that is handled by us in a single transaction so the member doesn’t come home to a bunch of explanations of benefits and a bunch of bills that they have to pay following their surgery.”
“We take away their worries,” he says. “That’s the BridgeHealth way.”
“Our clients and their members also like that we’re vetting quality for them,” he adds. “And the key here is that we use third party quality scoring – we’re not the ones determining quality for ourselves and our providers.”
Instead, BridgeHealth uses CareChex, an innovative medical quality rating system that integrates the most reliable quality indicators available in the industry. This independent sourcing proves to sponsors and members alike the company’s approved hospitals and select surgeons have outstanding track records.
“Clients also like us because of our white glove service, which is backed up by our Net Promoter Score,” Mark says. “And they are looking aggressively for partners to help them reduce errors and readmissions in their surgical flow because they want to reduce costs and get their members back to work quickly and safely. That’s what they get with us. That’s what we provide, better than anybody else.”
The satisfied testimony from BridgeHealth plan members supports what Mark is saying. The company surveys every individual that comes through their program, and they have roughly a 68 percent response rate and a 94 Net Promoter Score.
The Net Promoter Score is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. A 94 is virtually unheard of in the healthcare industry, where scores are typically in the 20s.
“One of the great joys of working at a company like this is that we’re truly helping people,” Mark says. “Surgery is not something that anybody takes lightly, it can be quite concerning to go through. But we walk people through it and help them achieve a high quality, positive outcome.”
Moving forward, BridgeHealth is set to achieve even more of those quality outcomes across the country. Mark sees the company doubling in size this year alone based on the response they are getting in the marketplace.
“The market is very receptive for the type of service that we are uniquely positioned to provide,” Mark says.
“Clients like us for a lot of reasons,” he concludes. “We provide a solution that promotes competition in healthcare delivery based on quality, not proximity or brand recognition. We give employers and other plan sponsors a new and effective tool to improve productivity and reduce costs. But, most importantly, we are breaking down the barriers to high quality care for more Americans. We believe that everyone deserves the best the US health system has to offer – and by creating a system in which everyone wins, we believe we can do just that.”For more on how BridgeHealth works – and the many benefits to sponsors, members, and providers – visit https://bridgehealth.com/